The International Telecom Union’s annual Girls in ICT Day on 27 April is a reminder of the work that is still needed to encourage women into careers focused on information and communication technology (ICT).
Women represent over half of college graduates in the United States, yet, they make up only 30 percent of employees at large technology companies. At the same time, there’s a growing need for technology skills across the industry. In fact, according to the United States’ National Center for Women & Information Technology, if current trends continue, by next year, the information technology industry will only be able to fill half of the jobs available.
The gender gap in technical fields is a top priority for us - in fact, last year, the Vodafone Americas Foundation made ‘empowering women and girls through technology’ a core focus for our work.
We seek to provide opportunities for women to learn skills, participate in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education and thrive in tech-driven leadership roles.
For example, for the past two years, Vodafone Americas employees have participated as judges in Technovation, the world’s largest entrepreneurship programme for girls, alongside other tech and business leaders.
Every year, Technovation (a flagship programme of nonprofit, Iridescent) challenges girls ages 10 to 18 to identify a problem in their community and develop a mobile app that addresses that issue.
Girls work in teams to build their apps and create business plans for launch, then present their ideas to a panel of judges.
Lilia Lobato Martinez (centre), who won the 2016 Technovation World Pitch Challenge in the high school division, discusses her app OOL, which focused on community/social development and promoted volunteer work.
Not only does the programme give young women the chance to learn real-world technical and business skills and build an innovative app from the ground up, it also addresses the gender gap in STEM head on. In 2017, nearly 11,000 girls from 99 countries and over 3,500 mentors are participating in Technovation.
Programmes like Technovation speak directly to the mission of Girls in ICT Day and help to bring our values to life.
June Sugiyama has been Director of the Vodafone Americas Foundation for over 10 years. She has led the Vodafone Americas Foundation’s transition towards impact through technology related programs and developed the Vodafone Americas Foundation Wireless Innovation Project.
Vodafone Foundation - www.vodafonefoundation.org - The Vodafone Americas Foundation is part of the network of 27 Vodafone Foundations around the world. The Wireless Innovation Project is part of the Vodafone Foundation Connecting for Good programme which focuses on combining charitable giving and communications technology to make a difference in the world.
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