Wednesday, 20 January 2021

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Changing the Face of STEM to help girls #MakeWhatsNext

Girls in Tech, STEM, Brussels, Microsoft and UNESCO, #MakeWhatsNext | © Microsoft

A series of events in Brussels and across Europe took place this month to challenge the gender digital gap and to raise the profile of STEM studies.

To mark Girls in ICT Day on April 26 and STEM Discovery week, UNESCO, UN Women and UNRIC took part in Microsoft Europe's event to empower young women and girls to demystify the challenges of STEM and to embrace the huge opportunities of the digital revolution.

Justine Sass, Chief of Education for Inclusion and Gender Equality UNESCO Paris and co-author of the “Cracking the Code” report (UNESCO 2017) shared findings on the root causes of gender inequality in STEM while Dagmar Schumacher, Director of UN Women Brussels, stressed the importance of gender equality for human development. 

#MakeWhatsNext STEM event, Brussels, UNESCO-Microsoft | © Microsoft

The Changing the Face of STEM event co-organised with UNESCO, was a pro-active one-day workshop with young women and boys and a variety of strong speakers highlighting why early exposure and considering studies and a career in STEM matters, and will have significant impact on the economy and society. There were many personal stories, professional experiences on AI and robotics and a debate on the usual road blocks in STEM education. The audience was also invited to experience interactive technology demos that hack STEM learning. Shannon McDaniel, one of the inspirational female role models, shared her journey and how with a PhD in geophysics she is now working on climate change issues as the Director of Data Strategy Global Covenant of Mayors. “We need to see more female role models in STEM careers at a younger age, so we normalize our presence in the industries.”

All these events across Europe aim to encourage and enable more girls and women to participate and transform the digital economy. Closing the digital gender gap will help achieve the goals 4 & 5 of the Sustainable Development Goals. As Caroline Petit, Deputy Director of UNRIC commented, ' The engagement of social media channels is also critical to help girls to identify with inspiring female role models. We need to see and hear more about them in the media'.

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