Accenture hosts annual events all over the world to encourage women to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). It calls this initiative “Girls in STEM”. This year (2017), inspiring talks, interactive workshops and coding sessions took place in the U.K., France, India and the U.S., with many more participants from all over the world joining online via Periscope live video streaming. Simultaneously, Accenture released new research finding that young girls’ take up of STEM subjects is held back by stereotypes, negative perceptions and limited understanding of career options.
Accenture’s research suggests that for young people, particularly girls, interest in STEM subjects tends to wane as they reach the age at which they begin to consider their subject choices and future careers, particularly as such a career is perceived to be a “male” career. Digital fluency – the extent to which both men and women embrace digital technologies to become more knowledgeable, connected and effective – is, however helping close the gender gap in the workplace, acting as an career accelerator.
Encouraged early on
It is believed that the use of technology in the workplace and female participation in STEM careers must be encouraged from a young age. In doing so, girls can be equipped with the skills they need to be digitally fluent and supported as they continue into work. Getting this correct from the beginning will go some way towards narrowing the gender gap in the workplace and open up new opportunities to thousands of young women.
Sparking an interest
Led by STEMettes, an award-winning social enterprise that supports young women into STEM careers, workshops include using AppShed’s Internet of Things technology to develop apps that have the ability to control devices anywhere in the world. The sessions are designed to not only spark an interest in STEM, but also be impactful. The intention is to build girls’ digital fluency from a young age so that they are aware of the breadth of opportunities available to them.
Innovation labs and cool tech
Accenture Labs, a platform for identifying and scaling innovative solutions, has joined up with the global initiative for Girls in STEM. The labs showcase innovative technologies including robotics, augmented reality, drones and in-house hydrogen generation. In these interactive labs, participants learn how to create problem-solving apps and about using technology to positively influence the world around them.
This story shows how Accenture supports Goal 5: Gender Equality, specifically Target 5.8: “Enhance the use of enabling technology, in particular information and communications technology, to promote the empowerment of women.”
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