STEMettes encourage women and girls to pursue IT

We live in a rapidly evolving digital world where technology makes life easier. Today, navigation systems in cars re-route drivers if a road closes for construction repairs, while insurance companies offer financial discounts by monitoring a driver’s style via a mobile phone app. At home, people are exploring artificial intelligence through Amazon’s Echo and Alexa. And our shopping habits are also changing. Supermarkets offer same-day delivery, drones deliver online goods and online retailers monitor personal buying habits and target offers through our social media accounts.

Why does all this matter?

Demand for IT services has skyrocketed and by 2020, the United Kingdom alone will need an additional 2 million digital workers. Dell Technologies estimates that 85 percent of the jobs that will exist by 2030 haven’t even been invented. Yet with all of these exciting digital opportunities, the UK has the lowest number of  women working in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) careers compared with all other EU countries.

To remedy this deficit, parents, teachers and the corporate community must get actively involved helping young women identify future STEM careers. Even if some students didn’t study computer science in high school and college, skills from other subjects – their communication, critical thinking, collaboration and creativity — are all important and relevant transferable skills.

As part of a national government programme, teachers can request a “STEM Ambassador” who is cleared by the national Disclosure and Barring Service, and encourage industry volunteers to inspire young students with real-life events and/or hands-on practical activities.

Guiding more women into IT careers will play an important role in improving innovative solutions and ensuring the future of the UK’s economy. Hilary Laney, CEO of the digital event company Evia, believes that the tech industry needs more women to ensure its sustainability and success. In launching a Women in Technology initiative Laney said, “The inclusion of women in the tech industry will help it succeed long-term and will empower them to build their own success stories in the fastest growing industry worldwide.”

At DXC Technology, we have worked closely with the STEMettes to ensure that more women consider careers in IT. The STEMettes are a UK-based non-profit organization that strives to encourage young girls and women to pursue STEM careers through creative, free and fun programs.

My first activity with the STEMettes was as a volunteer for the group’s #MonsterConfidence Tour in Birmingham in 2016. For that event, a group of DXC colleagues worked with young women on CV writing and interview techniques, while also pointing out the different types of STEM careers open to them, such as service desk, infrastructure IT engineering, database administration, software development and project management.

There’s a dramatic statistic and prediction that Sinead Bunting, Monster’s marketing director for the UK and Ireland, quoted from journalist and author Caitlin Moran: “If 90 percent of the coders are men, developing and owning the language of the future, women won’t be part of the conversation.”

That quote resonated with me and since hearing it, I have strived to support the STEMettes as much as possible with my colleagues. DXC had a booth at #MonsterConfidence in Sheffield in 2017 and we supported the STEMettes’ International Women’s Day event in Birmingham earlier this year. Prince Harry was there, too! We also had Tina Gough, DXC’s finance director, UKIIMEA, sit on a panel and volunteer with her team at the event in Birmingham.

Positive role models are so important to help young women see how other women already have great STEM careers. Throughout the next year, the DXC Foundation will partner with the STEMettes on various events to help women at local chapters throughout the UK develop their creativity and IT problem-solving skills. We look forward to partnering with the STEMettes for many more years.

Miranda-Webb-headshotMiranda Webb is an Advisor Delivery Specialist for DXC Technology, leading recruitment, training and development and people initiatives. Miranda has worked for DXC for 10 years and is based in the northwest of England. Miranda is an active STEM Ambassador and is passionate about diversity and community philanthropy.


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