Hackathon seeks to highlight STEM and insurance to girls and young women

dxc-digital-minds-stem-event-for-young-women

For years, women have been under-represented in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) courses and occupations. Although more women are starting to work in STEM fields, the gender gap remains high. Only about a quarter of STEM workers are women, and female representation on boards is lower than in other industries.

Some businesses and industries are making a concerted effort to attract more girls early in their educational journeys to STEM subjects. The London Insurance Market has been keenly focused on this, now providing younger girls with access to STEM workshops and STEM hackathons.

These efforts have been fully supported by DXC Digital Minds, a DXC Technology programme that brings insurance professionals together to understand the opportunities digital technology presents and to facilitate the cultural change that underpins digital innovation. Integral to that is the need to embrace diverse ways of thinking, which has meant bringing together people from diverse backgrounds, with mixed skills and from many different age groups, as well as encouraging organisations to foster innovative ideas and attract new talent to the industry. There’s clear recognition that having a diverse workforce will strengthen the industry and help improve business performance.

teaching-stem-to-young-woman

Engaging and collaborating through STEMettes

To help grow the next generation of diverse STEM workers, DXC Digital Minds organized a STEMettes weekend at DXC’s Gherkin office in London, bringing together people from DXC Digital Minds and the London Market with 70 girls and their families. The girls range in age from 5 to 18 years.

Founded by Dr. Anne-Marie Imafidon, MBE [Most Excellent Order of the British Empire], the STEMettes is a social enterprise that seeks to give girls and young women the confidence to consider a STEM education, and subsequent careers. Since establishing STEMettes in 2013, about 40,000 young people have attended events, workshops and experiences such as hackathons across the United Kingdom and Ireland. The organisation has found that 95 per cent of attendees are more interested in STEM subjects after just one event.

The London Market Digital Minds STEMettes hackathon in October 2019 aimed to build on the success of Imafidon’s achievements, as well as STEM events run by DXC UK colleagues Miranda Webb, Anne-Marie Wallace and Michelle Crosby. The event aimed to create an engaging and collaborative environment to encourage girls and young women to explore STEM careers.

The girls attending the hackathon talked about the inspiring atmosphere at the event and the opportunity to broaden their horizons. Most of the girls at the hackathon come from areas close to DXC’s East London offices — Hackney, Tower Hamlets, Waltham Forest, Leyton and Stratford. Yet few London Market employees come from these areas, so the event introduced a huge untapped talent market to the career possibilities nearby.

The girls were given insight into what the London Market does and the career options open to them in the future. During the event, the girls built an app to address issues important to them, including: a recycling app to address environmental issues; a social app to help young people who can’t get to school feel more included; and a food sharing app to ensure everyone has enough to eat.

At the end of the hackathon, the apps were assessed by three judges: Imafidon; London Market Group Chief Executive Officer Clare Lebecq; and Katherine Bryant, founder of The Progress Partnership, a London-based coaching and training consultancy. The judges said they were inspired by the finished products and the way the girls and women worked together to complete their tasks. The younger girls received prizes for their achievements.

Encouraging diversity in the workforce

It’s our hope that the experience will just be the start of the STEM journey for the participants, and that we will see many of them in the industry in the future.

The day wasn’t just about the girls. Parents were given an opportunity to sharpen their skills during LinkedIn workshops, and we are looking at how to include the older demographic in future programmes.

In a rapidly changing digital environment, DXC Digital Minds is focused on preparing the London Market for these changes by bringing together a diverse mix of talent and helping to attract STEM workers with different backgrounds.

DXC Technology Wins the Diversity & Talent Management Initiative of the Year Award at 2019 Insurance Day London Market Awards.


Caroline Bedford is focused on enabling Lloyd’s and London Market brokers and insurers to transition to a digital environment. Caroline runs the DXC Digital Minds programme, which engages hundreds of insurers and brokers in the transformation process. Working closely with digital experts within DXC Technology, DXC Digital Minds helps insurance organisations understand digital challenges and opportunities, and allows them to build a platform to succeed in a changing marketplace.

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