Women need to be skilled in STEM

  • 07/08/2019  |
Women need to be skilled in STEM

Science and technology need more girls! The underrepresentation of women in STEM jobs (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) is a growing burden for any business striving for a better gender balance or simply being more competitive. The issue is deeply rooted into our educational systems. While women are 58 % of university graduates in OECD Countries, they are significantly under-represented in STEM subjects. Only 20% of computer sciences graduates in 2012 were female, three points lower than in 2000 (OECD, 2015). Moreover, a UNESCO study on “Women in Science” (2015) found that the share of female researchers worldwide in 2013 was just 28%. In the last 30 years, women’s share of the global labor force has been stuck around the 39% mark, (42% in Italy in 2018), and progress toward gender equality in work is really slow. Automation and artificial intelligence technologies are offering new job opportunities for sure but there’s an urgency to prepare women for digital transformation. Which means to help them develop skills in Stem fields. The latest McKinsey Global Institute report, “The future of women at work: Transitions in the age of automation”, finds that if women invested in this upskilling, they could be on the path to more productive, better-paid work. According to the report: “between 40 million and 160 million women globally may need to transition between occupations by 2030, often into higher-skilled roles”.

To help this transition, last May the Italian association Valore D co-organized the event “STEMinthecity” in Milan. A week during which young women joined workshops, hackathons and roundtables. Hundreds of girls learned how to write code and they discovered the beauty within engineering, physics, and maths.  “Our girls need to be pushed so they can improve their teamwork and project development skills – says Barbara Falcolmer, managing director Valore D – They need to grow aware of their talents and their market opportunities. It’s a triple win: by helping young girls we make a step toward equality, we solve the problem of STEM vacancies and we reduce the unemployment risk. It’s like killing three birds with one stone”.  

Companies need to do their part as well. “Gender equality in STEM fields is a complex issue that requires persistent, long-term actions – says Elena Pistone, RGI’s Corporate Services Director – Most importantly, you have to create an inclusive workplace in which women will want to grow for years to come”. RGI is working on these points with Valore D, but how is it actually done? “One crucial step is creating programs and policies that support women. We have been tackling this with our #EneRGIe Program, a set of flexibility policies, benefits, mentoring and community engagement programs for our employees. We strongly believe in women’s long-term engagement with their jobs, which doesn’t only boost retention but also your reputation for being an excellent employer for women”.

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