Tribeni Chougule, Head Of Change Management, Europe Finance at Visa writes about the company's new Women in Technology Europe group that focuses on driving initiatives to achieve gender balance and promote a culture of inclusion, including the creation of a Technology Day.
During our first session, we learnt of a few stats that hit us hard. In 2017, according to WISE, just 23% of the people working in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) roles across the UK were female - and only 5% of leadership positions in the technology industry were held by women.
Even more alarmingly, only 16% of females in schools and university had a career in technology suggested to them, and only 3% females said a technology career was their first choice. We wanted to change this so created ‘Technology Day’, designed to be run in secondary schools for students before they make their subject choices for GCSEs.
Our mission was simple – to share the various aspects of technology such as programming robotics, designing mobile apps and also teaching them about technology roles and employability skills. We were confident that an exposure to these would ignite the spark in them to pursue a career in technology. It was a proud moment to find so many colleagues, both male and female, wanting to join the cause as volunteers and work on developing the programme beyond their day jobs. The support from our executive sponsors was also very heartening.
We spoke with close to 350 students in three schools all with positive results. In each of the days, there was a poll conducted at the start of the day where the students were asked to vote if they were interested in pursuing a career in technology with a ‘Yes’ or ‘No’. The same poll was repeated at the end of the day to review if their interest had changed.
In Reading, the all-girls school showed a 40% increase in interest in a career in technology, in Basingstoke +25.5% for girls, +16.5% for boys and in Paddington, +35% for girls and 10% in boys.
There’s a long way to go but the journey has started and has already shown a positive impact on young people thinking about their career options. I’m grateful to my colleagues and Visa’s social impact and D&I team for supporting us to make this a reality and for their continued support in the scale-up plans for the future.