Today marks ITU International Girls in ICT Day, which will be celebrated with a series of global events to encourage young women to consider careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).
Local GSMA offices around the world will host events today including one at its London headquarters, which will invite a group of girls from The Bridge Academy, Hackney, to an event hosted by BT to its innovation event space. Speakers will include representatives from Arsenal FC, Cambridge University, Mastercard and Vodafone.
The Global System for Mobile Communications (also known as the GSMA) represents the interests of mobile operators worldwide, uniting nearly 800 operators with more than 300 companies.
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“The GSMA is delighted to be supporting the ITU International Girls in ICT event for the fifth year running, inviting girls from around the world to learn about the rewarding careers possible within the mobile industry and the wider ICT sector,” said Mats Granryd, director general, GSMA.
“The future success of our industry rests on the ability to attract talented females and we hope to inspire a new generation of young women to become tomorrow’s industry leaders.”
The GSMA will be holding similar events in Atlanta, Barcelona, Brussels, Hong Kong, Dubai and Nairobi today.
Industry supports Girls in ICT Day
Sarah Kaiser, Diversity & Inclusion Lead, EMEIA at Fujitsu, said Girls in ICT day signals an important milestone in the year: “How much better we have become at encouraging more young girls and women to get interested in STEM. Whilst it’s promising that in recent years we’ve seen a uptick of STEM subjects in schools, we’re still not seeing this translate at university and in the workplace, with many still avoiding these subjects.
Whether this is through workshops at school or women’s networks in the workplace, it’s clear more still needs to be done to continue the momentum we’ve built up in the early stages of learning all the way through university and into the workplace. And the responsibility shouldn’t be solely down to education institutions to foster this interest. From policymakers, to public and private organisations, and especially parents, we all need to tackle biases around women in STEM and showcase how exciting digital jobs can be, both within tech and other sectors.
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One way we can pave the way for more girls to pursue STEM careers is by telling the stories of some of the great female tech trailblazers like Ada Lovelace. The unveiling of the first female statue in Parliament Square – the suffragist campaigner Millicent Fawcett – this week is a prime example of how making female role models more visible will inspire young girls and women to follow in their footsteps.
As the future leaders of the UK, we need to ensure we are investing in both girls and boys at the very beginning and throughout the entire digital journey. This will ensure that we are developing the right skills to support the future digital economy. It is no longer a nice-to-have; technology is absolutely core to the future of the UK economy – particularly as we move into the age of IoT and smart cities.”
Why Girls in ICT Day matters
YouGov was commissioned by Vodafone to survey 6,000 18-25-year olds, across 15 countries, to reveal future career aspirations. Of those survey 23% said they lack confidence to work in STEM and do not require the skills needed.
Furthermore, 60% of the teenage girls said they regret not studying STEM for longer, according to research by Accenture.
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Anne Sheehan, Vodafone’s first female UK Enterprise Director, said: “At Vodafone, we see it as our responsibility to inspire future generations to become technology leaders, regardless of gender or background. As Vodafone’s first female UK Enterprise Director, I am excited to be part of a great movement to encourage young girls and women to explore their professional potential in ICT.
I strongly feel there is an opportunity to make STEM subjects more accessible and attractive to girls and young women still in education, exciting them about the potential they have to offer. For instance, this April we partnered with Girls Talk to launch the third stage of our STEM mentor scheme which provides support, skills development and assistance in career choices to girls studying STEM subjects.
By creating an inclusive and diverse workplace, we are not only improving the lives of our employees, but also inspiring our customers, partners, and the wider business community to do the same.”
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