A series of Microsoft events celebrating women in the tech industry came to Malta over the weekend to attract young Maltese women to ICT-related careers.
Digigirlz Day featured stories about exciting innovations in technology and was designed to encourage participants to explore the possibilities available in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM). It gave the girls the opportunity to explore careers in technology, connect with Microsoft employees, and participate in hands-on digital Lego Education workshops driven by IMS Ltd, official distributors of Lego Education in Malta.
“ICT is a very exciting career and it is not about sitting behind a desk and coding,” said President of Malta Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca at the event. “There’s so much more than that. The country needs more girls in STEM subjects because this is the way forward. Unfortunately, prejudice, discrimination and stereotyping, are still the main factors that are discouraging female students from considering a career in ICT. Family, educators and society all have an active role in encouraging female students to pursue a career in ICT.”
The event was attended by 80 Form 1 female students from Sacred Heart School at the Microsoft Innovation Centre.
Angela Micallef, the Philanthropies Lead at Microsoft Malta as well as a passionate and dedicated ambassador promoting STEM subjects for girls through the Digigirlz programme, explained that educators, parents and positive female role models can help entice girls to consider choosing Computer Studies and ICT subjects at school.
“Giving access to positive female role models is the first step to help mould future women leaders in Technology. Girls and young women who know a woman in a STEM profession, are substantially more likely to feel empowered when they engage in education and career-affirming activities”, said Ms Micallef.
Rachel Gauci, a Maltese woman who works with Facebook in London as a software engineer, came to Malta to speak to the young girls about her experience.
“IT is not just about coding or working at a computer all day long but is a subject that is found in countless industries and careers. Anyone should consider IT as a career without compromising their passion, and there are many opportunities that can help us combine IT with what we love doing best,” she said.
A 2017 UNESCO global survey estimated that by 2020, 98% of STEM related jobs will require ICT skills and there will be around 1 million vacant posts in computing because of a lack of skilled personnel. Women are significantly under-represented in ICT, accounting for only 3% of ICT graduates globally. In Europe, only 29 out of 1,000 female graduates had a degree in computing in 2015, and only four went on to have ICT careers.