Opportunity to encourage young women and girls to pursue studies and careers in science, technology, engineering and maths
International Girls in ICT Day is being celebrated today, 26 April 2018, around the globe at thousands of events organised to inspire girls and young women to consider careers in the information and communication technology (ICT) sector.
The day is organised annually on the fourth Thursday in April by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the United Nations specialised agency for information and communications technologies (ICTs). Since its inception, over 300,000 girls and young women have taken part in more than 9,000 celebrations of International Girls in ICT Day in 166 countries worldwide.
International Girls in ICT Day is an opportunity to encourage young women and girls to pursue studies and careers in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM).
“ITU’s International Girls in ICT Day has become a global movement in which more girls and young women are learning about the wide range of fascinating opportunities ICT careers can offer,” said ITU Secretary-General Houlin Zhao. “In the coming years there will be numerous job opportunities for people equipped with relevant digital skills. It is essential that the public and private sectors, as well as academia, and civil society seize the momentum created by International Girls in ICT Day to leapfrog the number of girls pursuing careers in technology.”
Commented Sarah Kaiser, diversity and inclusion lead, EMEIA at Fujitsu: “Girls in ICT day signals an important milestone in the year; how much better we have become at encouraging more young girls and women to get interested in STEM. Whilst it’s promising that in recent years we’ve seen an uptick of STEM subjects in schools, we’re still not seeing this translate at university and in the workplace, with many still avoiding these subjects.
“Whether this is through workshops at school or women’s networks in the workplace, it’s clear more still needs to be done to continue the momentum we’ve built up in the early stages of learning all the way through university and into the workplace,” continued Kaiser. “And the responsibility shouldn’t be solely down to education institutions to foster this interest. From policymakers, to public and private organisations, and especially parents, we all need to tackle biases around women in STEM and showcase how exciting digital jobs can be, both within tech and other sectors.”
Kaiser continued: “One way we can pave the way for more girls to pursue STEM careers is by telling the stories of some of the great female tech trailblazers like Ada Lovelace. The unveiling of the first female statue in Parliament Square – the suffragist campaigner Millicent Fawcett – this week is a prime example of how making female role models more visible will inspire young girls and women to follow in their footsteps.”
ITU promotes the use of ICTs to ensure women and girls have the necessary skills and tools to fully exploit the benefits of today’s digital economy, and ITU encourages its membership to undertake yearlong activities to make girls and young women aware of job opportunities in the ICT sector as well as to develop their ICT skills.
“Each time we introduce more women to the world of ICTs, not only do we take one more step towards achieving gender equality, but we accelerate socio-economic development for all,” said Brahima Sanou, Director of ITU’s Telecommunication Development Bureau. “In many countries, we are starting to see International Girls in ICT Day initiatives moving from one-day events to sustained, on-going programmes to teach girls about ICTs throughout the year. Let’s make every day a Girls in ICT Day!”