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Ericsson leading the charge for Girls in ICT

Press release
May 03, 2021

Around the world, more than 377,000 girls and young women have participated in over 11,400 International Girls in ICT Day celebrations in 171 countries over the past ten years. Governments, national Information and Communications Technology (ICT) regulatory authorities, ICT companies, academic institutions, and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) across the world have all been encouraged to join the movement, however as we celebrate our achievements and efforts in encouraging young girls to go into science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics (STEAM) related fields, there is still much to be done by organizations everywhere. 

The gender gap in STEAM is striking; in higher education, only 35 percent of all students enrolled in STEAM-related fields are females. More worrying, is that female enrolment is particularly low in ICT (3 percent). In Europe, for example, only 29 of 1,000 female graduates had a degree in computing in 2015. Research also shows that the gender gap starts as young as lower secondary school, where girls are less likely to select technology and science-related subjects. This trend continues through college, and the rest of their careers.

Having many more young girls and women join ICT as a career is important not only because diverse and inclusive teams lead to better working environments but also because it impacts our productivity and profitability. In fact, a recent McKinsey study of 1,000 companies across 12 countries found that firms that had taken steps to improve gender equality were more profitable than national averages. 

Currently, there are simply not enough young women willing to take up STEAM studies as a choice for higher education or career option. Governments across the region have taken steps to address this.

In Turkey, the State which is aiming for gender equality in all areas of education and adopting a holistic approach model, continues to develop various projects with non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to ensure equal gender distribution. Important steps are taken to ensure gender equality in the field of STEAM especially by the Ministry of National Education of the Republic of Turkey alongside other ministries, international organizations, and NGOs.

Işıl Yalçın

Işıl Yalçın, Vice President and Head of Ericsson Turkey said: “Carrying out studies in this field by innovative companies like us that do business for the benefit of society raises our hope for eliminating gender inequality. As Ericsson, we have made steady progress over the past few years, particularly in increasing the number of women in senior positions. Currently, we are at a very good point in the sector with 29 percent of our female employees in Turkey. We evaluate our recruitment processes and promotions in terms of gender equality. We support our female employees to develop their skills and experience to be appointed to higher positions. We support our female employees in their development of talent and experience so that they are appointed to higher positions. The most important output of the research conducted by Honeypot in 2018, covering 41 countries from the OECD and the EU, shows that Turkey is the country with the highest rate of female students graduating from STEAM departments with a rate of 37 percent. We continue to support our girls without slowing down so that they can achieve success in their career journeys."

According to a recent research conducted by UNESCO, Morocco holds the second rank amongst Arab states for the highest proportion of female engineering graduates at 42.2 percent. 

Nora Wahby, Vice President and Head of Ericsson West Africa and Morocco said: “Since 2011, International Girls in ICT Day has been celebrated in 171 countries around the world featuring over 377,000 girls and young women. At Ericsson we invite girls that are interested in STEAM and ICT to our events in many different countries. Ericsson is an avid supporter of Girls in ICT Day with many global initiatives, like Connect to Learn, launched to empower young female students. There is a lot of potential in Morocco and we are keen on continuing our support to encourage young females to pursue an education and a career in STEAM.”

Nora Wahby

In the UAE, a unique government entity – the UAE Gender Balance Council - was built for the very purpose of gender equality across all fields and sectors. A testament to the strides being made is the UAE Mars Mission, where women make up 80% of the program's scientific team. In addition, the UAE has recently named Noura AlMatroushi as the first female Emirati astronaut.

Wojciech Bajda

Wojciech Bajda, Vice President and Head of Gulf Council Countries at Ericsson said: “While governments play a major role in bridging the gender gap in STEAM, it is up to organizations like Ericsson to support them and play a significant part in encouraging young women to choose STEAM education. Ericsson has long been a supporter of Girls in ICT Day and several ongoing global initiatives have been launched to empower young female students; Ericsson’s Connect to Learn program, which focuses on ensuring girls have access to ICT skills in school and outside of school, has reached over 200,000 students located across 25 countries to date.”

Senegal is no exception. There have been efforts to raise awareness and encourage young girls to pursue an education and careers in the ICT sector between the government and several educational institutions in the country to expose young girls to the ICT universe, get inspired and learn more about the professions in the STEAM field and the various experiences available to them.

Amadou Moustapha NIANG, Country Manager of Ericsson Senegal said: “As we progress towards faster and technically superior times, it is only right that we inspire and engage more and more young girls and women to take up STEAM studies as a career opportunity, raising awareness for a better tomorrow. Ericsson is a big supporter of Girls in ICT Day and we are so keen to see what the future holds with the bright minds and strong drive of the young female generation.”

Amadou Moustapha NIANG

In South Africa, the government has put additional resources behind the development of STEAM curricula, including robotics, coding and 4th industrial revolution technologies in SA schools.

The Gauteng Department of Education has already opened two high schools that focus on high-tech and innovation, which assist in addressing skills shortages in the country by creating skilled labour for the economy to respond to the transformation, modernisation and re-industrialisation strategy.

Mahomed Essof

Mahomed Essof, Country Manager of Ericsson South Africa said: “Improving educational opportunities is vital for enriching lives of young women. Bridging the gender gap in STEAM is an issue that should be fought for by everyone, not only women. The public and private sectors, as well as civil society, all have a role to play in ensuring young women seek professions in the ICT industry. ICT, as a career, should be both diverse and inclusive, and seen as something that creates opportunities for future entrepreneurship in the industry – empowering all. Ericsson’s Connect to Learn program is one of the initiatives that support the education of women and girls. To date, the program has reached over 200,000 students located across 25 countries. We strongly encourage girls to study STEAM subjects to empower and help bridge the STEAM divide.”

In Ghana, Girls in ICT Day is celebrated annually to empower young girls to pursue an education and a career in STEAM. For instance, training activities were organized by the Government in some Districts in the Oti  Region where more than  570 young girls were introduced to and trained in ICT.

Richard Kweku Arthur, Country Manager of Ericsson Ghana said: “Governments are implementing different endeavours to bridge the gender gap in STEAM. International Girls in ICT Day sheds light on the importance of sensitizing girls to the numerous STEAM-related careers that they can pursue. In Ghana, we see a lot of potential for girls to join the ICT sector.  We are proud to have recently recognized Sabrina Lamie Awuni as the Best Graduating Female Student in Computer Engineering in the 2019/2020 academic year at the University of Ghana. With our efforts at Ericsson and other organizations that support STEAM, we will reach new heights with Girls in ICT!”

Richard Kweku Arthur

In Egypt, the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology has launched the Qodwatech initiative with the aim to contribute to the social and economic empowerment of girls and young women in all Egyptian governorates, especially in remote and marginalized areas, to meet the goals of Egypt Vision 2030. Women are empowered to use information and communication technology and digital financial technology. Since its launch, the Central Administration for Community Development at the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology concluded training for nine batches of women entrepreneurs on several skills, including digital marketing and e-commerce. Moreover, the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology had sponsored the enrollment of women and girls in several other initiatives to train and find work in the ICT sector, such as the She Can initiative in 2020 and the Digital Egypt Builders in 2021.

Sameh Shoukry

Sameh Shoukry, Country Manager of Ericsson Egypt said: “The Egyptian government represented by the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology has sponsored dozens of initiatives to empower women with the help of organizations like Ericsson. Ericsson has long been a supporter of Girls in ICT Day and several ongoing global initiatives have been launched to empower young female students. We believe that ICT in particular gives women a unique chance to work remotely or on a freelance basis, hence, overcoming the obstacles that have been facing women in finding and retaining jobs, such as transport, gender bias, and workplace discrimination. Ericsson’s Connect to Learn program focuses on ensuring girls have access to ICT skills in school and outside of school. The program has reached over 200,000 students located across 25 countries to date.”

In Nigeria, the government has also put in place the National Policy on Science and Technology Education with its implementation guideline for repositioning and delivering quality Science and technology education in the country for global competitiveness.

Sean Cryan, Country Manager of Ericsson Nigeria said: “The importance of an equitable workforce across various sectors cannot be overstated, and in Nigeria, ICT plays an integral role in the nation’s development; hence our continued support through programs aimed at developing skills of women. in the past six years, Ericsson has held five initiatives for Girls in ICT Day with much success. The events welcomed girls from all age ranges and were held in collaboration with local state schools as well as with the Swedish embassy in Nigeria. Ericsson remains committed to the growth of the sector and we strongly believe there is a need to drive participation of more women in the society.”

Sean Cryan

On the other hand, a lot of work must be done in Côte d’Ivoire to reduce the decline in gender parity that sets in at secondary school levels. The disparity is even greater in the STEAM fields, further reiterating the need to encourage young girls to pursue an education and career in ICT.

Youssef Sqalli

Youssef Sqalli, Country Manager of Ericsson Côte d’Ivoire said: “The need to encourage young girls to pursue an education in STEAM is stronger than ever. Having many more young girls and women pursue an education and join ICT as a career in Côte d’Ivoire is important in order to introduce girls to the STEAM universe, allow them to experience the opportunities the field provides, bridge the gender gap in the field and to lead better working environments for the future. Ericsson is proud to participate in Girls in ICT Day and we are looking forward to all the accomplishments the young female generation will achieve.”

Last year, keeping in mind the fact that many parents were and continue to be home-schooling their children, Ericsson shared some learning materials,  in the hope that these would help provide children and parents with some useful insights into coding and computing; science and technology.

While these programs continue to be ongoing, this year Ericsson has also rallied employees to go the extra mile by focusing on their own homes and teaching their own daughters and young relatives about the potential of STEAM and careers in ICT through the Be a Teacher initiative, where they were provided with teaching materials and toolkits. In addition, The Share our Story program also saw Ericsson host virtual sessions to bring information and inspiration to girls and their families to explore the ICT industry and a potential career path within it.  Another great project worth mentioning is Technovation, a global tech competition for girls. Spread over 28 countries, almost 100 Ericsson employees are currently mentoring girls between the ages of 10 and 18 years.

While there is still work to be done, efforts are well underway and the future of STEAM studies as a career choice is truly exciting. Research shows that more than 65% of our students will work in jobs that don’t exist today. By engaging participants in Girls in ICT Day, we hope to help prepare for that future, encouraging more and more girls to consider careers in ICT and simultaneously expanding our work internally to engage and collaborate for gender parity and equality overall.