Women’s participation in the workforce has been steadily increasing each year because of continuous efforts by the governments, non-profits as well as the global organisations. However, the representation of women and girls in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) fields is surprisingly less.
According to UNESCO, less than 30 per cent of researchers across the world are women. Only around 30 per cent of all female students select STEM-related fields in higher education. Globally, female students’ enrolment is particularly low in ICT (3 per cent), natural science, mathematics and statistics (5 per cent) and in engineering, manufacturing and construction (8 per cent).
In order to encourage more women to pursue their career in science, Feb 11th is celebrated as International Day of Women and Girls in Science by the United Nations. On this occasion, let us look at the contribution of CSR for inducting more women and girls in STEM fields.
IBM’s Initiative for STEM for Girls in India
In order to empower high school girl students to thrive in the digital economy, IBM has launched an initiative called STEM for Girls India. It is a three-year CSR programme (starting from the eighth standard) for imparting digital literacy and coding skills alongside career development and empowerment. The goal is to inculcate STEM skills and improve career prospects of over 2,00,000 girls and 1,00,000 boys too by making them employment-ready. The project began in 2019 and now spans 10 states, 600 secondary schools 78,000 girls and 45,000 boys.
The program is significant, as the new-collar jobs today demand technical skills in AI, data science, cybersecurity etc. These subjects require a knowledge base to be built in STEM during secondary and higher education.
IBM is also working closely with various state governments to help develop STEM skills among students. For instance, the company signed an agreement with Andhra Pradesh State Skills Development Corporation, Government of Andhra Pradesh to establish a Centre of Excellence (CoE). The CoE will provide high-end training in coding, cloud computing, AI, blockchain, Big Data and data analytics, cybersecurity and full-stack development.
IBM has also joined hands with Telangana Academy for Skill and Knowledge, Government of Telangana to offer ‘Open P-TECH’, a digital education platform. Under the partnership, IBM is providing P-Tech for learning emerging technologies and building professional development skills like design thinking to 30,000 students from polytechnic and engineering streams.
Mastercard’s Girls4Tech Program
Mastercard launched Girls4Tech program in 2014 to create future problem solvers by incorporating the payments technology company’s deep expertise in technology and innovation. The program’s aim is to enable kids to discover a range of STEM careers, such as fraud detective, data scientist and software engineer. In 2020, the company announced a new goal for the program to reach five million girls globally by 2025.
In India, supported by the Mastercard Impact Fund and in partnership with the American India Foundation (AIF), the program will train 1,200 teachers in 350 villages and five cities including Gurugram, Pune, Vadodara, Mumbai, and Chennai on the Girls4Tech curriculum by 2021. Through the partnership, the program will reach 100,000 girls ages 8-14 across 475 schools over the next 12 months.
Through the website Girls4Tech Connect, teachers and parents can download lessons to help students learn about STEM topics including encryption, fraud detection, data analysis and digital convergence, from the comfort of their homes or anywhere around the world. Lessons are currently available in English, Chinese, Hindi, Malay, Arabic, Spanish, Portuguese, French and Polish.
Mastercard aims to stimulate meaningful partnerships focused on empowering women to succeed in the digital economy. This initiative is a part of Mastercard’s recent commitment of Rs 250 crores (US$33 million) to help reboot Indian SMEs to unlock their economic potential.
Cisco’s Girls Power Tech Initiative
Cisco’s global initiative, Girls Power Tech (GPT), is a special learning opportunity for girls and young women to connect with Cisco mentors at offices around the world. GPT aims to inspire them to consider educational and career paths in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM).
Every April and May, the company hosts Girls Power Tech in alignment with the UN Girls in ICT Day, a global event organized by the UN International Telecommunication Union. The initiative connects girls and young women ages 13 to 18 with Cisco mentors for a day. Through this program, it has shared opportunities in the tech sector with thousands of young women worldwide. Cisco offices in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia, and the Americas hold events including office visits, tours, and presentations by female leaders. These employees discuss career opportunities and life in the technology field.
Students also get to use Cisco collaboration technologies to interact with other leading women at Cisco, as well as other girls participating in-office visits around the globe. More than 115 Cisco sites participated in Girls Power Tech in FY19. Each site determines what programs to offer.
Covestro India’s Efforts to Inspire Girl Students to take up STEM Education
Covestro, the global manufacturer of high-performance polymer materials, is taking steps beyond manufacturing to promote STEM learning among girls. The company has collaborated with g4g (greenlight for girls), an NGO based in Belgium to conduct a series of STEM workshops across the country. Over 100 girls in the age group of 10 to 15 years participated from different schools wherein they conducted simple science experiments that stimulated their curiosity and interest in science.