Around the world, more than 377,000 girls and young women have participated in over 11,400 International Girls in ICT Day celebrations in 171 countries over the past ten years.
Governments, national Information and Communications Technology (ICT) regulatory authorities, ICT companies, academic institutions, and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) across the world have all been encouraged to join the movement, however as we celebrate our achievements and efforts in encouraging young girls to go into science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics (STEAM) related fields, there is still much to be done by organizations everywhere.
The gender gap in STEAM is striking; in higher education, only 35 percent of all students enrolled in STEAM-related fields are females. More worrying, is that female enrolment is particularly low in ICT (3 percent). In Europe, for example, only 29 of 1,000 female graduates had a degree in computing in 2015. Research also shows that the gender gap starts as young as lower secondary school, where girls are less likely to select technology and science-related subjects. This trend continues through college, and the rest of their careers.
Having many more young girls and women join ICT as a career is important not only because diverse and inclusive teams lead to better working environments but also because it impacts our productivity and profitability. In fact, a recent McKinsey study of 1,000 companies across 12 countries found that firms that had taken steps to improve gender equality were more profitable than national averages.
Currently, there are simply not enough young women willing to take up STEAM studies as a choice for higher education or career option. Governments across the region have taken steps to address this and, in Ghana, Girls in ICT Day is celebrated annually to empower young girls to pursue an education and a career in STEAM. For instance, training activities were organized by the Government in some Districts in the Oti Region where more than 570 young girls were introduced to and trained in ICT.
Richard Kweku Arthur, Country Manager of Ericsson Ghana said: “Governments are implementing different endeavours to bridge the gender gap in STEAM. International Girls in ICT Day sheds light on the importance of sensitizing girls to the numerous STEAM-related careers that they can pursue.
In Ghana, we see a lot of potential for girls to join the ICT sector. We are proud to have recently recognized Sabrina Lamie Awuni as the Best Graduating Female Student in Computer Engineering in the 2019/2020 academic year at the University of Ghana. With our efforts at Ericsson and other organizations that support STEAM, we will reach new heights with Girls in ICT!”
Last year, keeping in mind the fact that many parents were and continue to be home-schooling their children, Ericsson shared some learning materials, in the hope that these would help provide children and parents with some useful insights into coding and computing; science and technology.
While there is still work to be done, efforts are well underway and the future of STEAM studies as a career choice is truly exciting. Research shows that more than 65% of our students will work in jobs that don’t exist today. By engaging participants in Girls in ICT Day, we hope to help prepare for that future, encouraging more and more girls to consider careers in ICT and simultaneously expanding our work internally to engage and collaborate for gender parity and equality overall.