11th October marks International Day of the Girl, an international observance day declared by the United Nations to celebrate opportunity for girls, and raise awareness of the importance of gender equality.
The day was first celebrated in 2012 by Plan International, a group which operates around the world advocating children’s rights in over 71 countries. The day began with ‘Because I am a Girl’, a campaign aimed at increasing awareness of gender inequality – especially in developing countries. This eventually led Plan International to approach the Canadian federal government to raise support internationally. From there, an international day of awareness was proposed in the United Nations General Assembly, and International Day of the Girl was born.
On International Day of the Girl 2015, then-president Barack Obama made a presidential proclamation, where he wrote: “On International Day of the Girl, we recognize our obligation to lift up women and girls at home and abroad and to build a world where all girls feel safe and empowered in their classrooms, their communities, and their homes.”
Big corporations are also getting involved – Disney has launched the ‘Dream Big, Princess’ campaign, which aims to encourage girls to ‘dream big’, with videos featuring women from various walks of life sharing their stories to inspire confidence . The project is produced and directed by emerging talent from the UN Foundation's Girl Up initiative.
The holiday, which is also popularly known as ‘International Day of the Girl Child’, has a different theme each year. Last year’s theme was ‘EmPOWER Girls: Before, during and after crises’, and this year’s theme is ‘With Her: A Skilled GirlForce’. A statement on the United Nations website states that this year’s theme is aimed at bringing together “partners and stakeholders to advocate for, and draw attention and investments to, the most pressing needs and opportunities for girls to attain skills for employability.”
Why equal opportunity matters in tech
In the technology sector, girls often seem to have fewer opportunities than boys, with ‘pipeline’ issues surrounding much of the industry, leading to fewer young women occupying key roles – around 15% of UK tech-roles are held by female employees.
Numerous studies have shown that there is a steep drop off in the number of girls studying STEM subjects, with a number of factors at play, including a lack of education directed at young girls, as well as the long-held perception of tech-related roles as being ‘for men’.
Despite this, we still have much to celebrate in the past year with regards to young women in tech, with a lot of progress made in 2018 alone.
UK A-level results
This year’s A-level results showed an impressive increase in the number of girls studying STEM subjects, with almost double the amount of girls studying the subjects at A-level compared to five years ago – increasing from 6.5% to 11.8%.
Read more about this year’s A-level results here.
She can STEM Campaign
Major tech firms including Google and Microsoft have partnered with the Ad Council to launch the She Can STEM campaign, aimed at encouraging more girls to explore opportunities in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) fields.
The campaign features several women working in tech roles in high-profile companies, with a variety of companies involved, such as IBM, Boeing, and even Microsoft’s Halo Game Studio. You can see one of the Ad Council’s videos below, where Bonnie Ross from Halo Game Studio tells an audience of girls that “with technology, you can make amazing worlds.”
Read more about the She Can STEM campaign here.
The Women in Tech World Series
The WinTec series is aimed at inspiring and empowering women to bridge the gender gap in the tech sector, achieve their goals and level the playing field in one of the world's fastest growing industries. We've hosted events around the world, bringing together women from all walks of life to be inspired by our speakers, and take part in our practical workshops – in November, we're coming to Amsterdam.
This year, at the Women of Silicon Roundabout event in London over 4,000 attendees joined us in London to be inspired, network with other successful women in the tech sector, and most importantly, supercharge their own careers. With inspirational talks from our speaker line up and actionable takeaways from our tech talks, our attendees came away from the event ready to change the face of tech.
See what our attendees had to say about Women of Silicon Roundabout 2018 below.
You can already register for First Look tickets for Women of Silicon Roundabout 2019.