Use your tech skills to build a better world

Social justice + technology
iBobbly is Australia's first wellbeing self-help app for young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians. Image via iBobbly.

Want to make a difference? Use your tech skills to build a better world.

If you’re passionate about social justice, you might be considering a career in social work, or working for a charity or aid organisation – but have you thought about combining your do-good-attitude with technology skills for a career that can make a real difference?

In our increasingly tech-driven world, it makes sense that technology will play an instrumental role in our attempts to do better and be better.

“Technology and data are helping to fuel an unprecedented movement for social justice all around the world,” said Tal Frankfurt, founder and CEO of Cloud For Good (a transformational tech company) in a Forbes article last year.

That article looked at the power of tech to aid social protests and social movements, like Black Lives Matters. But tech for social good is about more than harnessing the power of social media, or hashtag activism.

Passionate about the environment? You could build an app like Greener, which rewards consumers for shopping more sustainably. Or is inclusivity and disability advocacy more your jam? You could be involved in a project like building the StorySign app, launched by tech company Huawei in 2019 and using the power of artificial intelligence (AI) to enrich story time for hearing impaired children and their parents.

The opportunities are endless, and it’s not as much about the technology, as it is about your drive to make a difference. “Ultimately, technology is neither good nor bad on its own. It’s a tool, and what matters is how we use it,” said famous tech philanthropist Melinda Gates.

And whether you want to go it alone and launch a tech startup or you dream of landing a gig with a tech giant, there will be opportunities to do good in your tech career. For example, Google has the Google.org Fellowship, a pro bono program that matches its employees with nonprofits and other civic entities for up to six months on full-time projects. Atlassian, whose Aussie founders are famously philanthropic and civic-minded, has the Atlassian Foundation and its employees receive up to five days of volunteering leave every year.

You could also start to stretch your tech + social good muscles before you even leave high school – look into opportunities to take part in hackathons, like Random Hacks of Kindness which recruit volunteers to help use tech to solve some of society’s most pressing challenges.

Random Hacks of Kindness

Ready to start using tech for good starting, like, yesterday? You don’t need to be working for a big tech company or start your own business. Hackathons are a great way to practice using tech for good.

Check out Random Hacks of Kindness (RHoK), which runs twice yearly hackathons in Melbourne, Brisbane and Sydney. They work with charities, entrepreneurs and non-profits to help solve challenges over a 48-hour hackathon involving volunteer hackers, technologists, designers and creative thinkers. To date they’ve tackled a diverse range of social problems, from bushfire response to inspiring more girls to get into tech, to mental health and the environment.

RELATED: Hacking for social good

3 apps making a difference in different ways

Whether it’s fighting poverty, helping the environment or supporting mental health – there are loads of different ways to make a difference with tech. Here are three awesome apps to get you inspired.

1. Supporting young Indigenous people

iBobbly is a social and emotional wellbeing app designed by, and for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. The app supports mental wellbeing by drawing on stories, images and videos from Aboriginal artists and performers, showing ways to manage thoughts and feelings, set goals and focus on what’s important.

2. Empowering refugees with tech skills

Technology + social justice

EMPACT is a program developed through the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) Innovation Accelerator. By partnering with major tech firms, empowers refugees by equipping them with the digital skills needed for a brighter future.

3. Fighting Food waste

Developed in Denmark and used across Europe, the Too Good To Go app connects customers to businesses with excess food to prevent waste – 86.6 million meals have been saved since the app was launched in 2016! Users get meals at a great price, businesses reach new customers and reduce waste, and less food goes into landfill.

RELATES: Makes me appy: apps for social good

Tech + social good study

  • Bachelor of Information Technology, Monash University
  • Bachelor of Science (Computer Science), University of Canterbury
  • Bachelor of Engineering (Computer and Software Systems), QUT

Tech + social good jobs

  • Software Developer, A$51K-$101K / NZ$50K-$92K
  • Project Manager, IT, A$65K-$148K / NZ$59K-$118K
  • Web App Developer, A$52K-$1114K / NZ$49K-$77K

*Salaries according to payscale.com

This story originally appears in Careers with STEM: Technology 2021. Looking for more ways to combine your STEM skills with social justice? Check out our create social change category.

Gemma Chilton

Author: Gemma Chilton

Gemma is the Managing Editor of Careers with STEM magazine. She has previously worked as Digital Managing Editor at Australian Geographic and a staff writer at Cosmos science magazine.

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