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Coding turns pink: encouraging women and girls to work in STEM

Coding turns pink: encouraging women and girls to work in STEM

30 May 2024
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In 2023, the Global Gender Gap score has seen a slight improvement of 0.3 %, reaching 68.4% overall closure1 and highlighting the increasing attention the topic is receiving from businesses as well as the media. Also in Italy the initiatives promoting gender equality are blooming with more and more businesses getting involved in reaching out to women and improving diversity.

Addressing the gender gap in the IT sector, particularly in areas like coding, has always been a priority for Fincons. In 2023, 30% of roles in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) were held by women and 23% developers out of over 17,000 identified as female in the third quarter of 2023, according to the Developer Nation’s Q3 2023 Survey2. This figure set to grow significantly if more businesses follow suit and invest in increasing access to these subjects for women and girls.

Fincons is deeply involved in addressing these challenges. By supporting various initiatives and events, the company reaffirms its commitment to fostering inclusivity and championing women in tech.

One of the initiatives Fincons is sponsoring is hackher_, an important Italian event dedicated to gender equality, held yearly in 10 Italian and 10 European cities, with the Patronage of the European Parliament.

Hackher_ pursues ideals of inclusion by fighting all forms of gender discrimination and is aimed at anyone who believes that leaving future generations a society based on gender equality is important. The girls involved have the unique opportunity to experience first-hand the start and development of a technological project, overturning the false belief that STEM subjects are mainly male domain, so that their choice of university degree can truly be the result of a real personal inclination, breaking the glass ceiling and gender stereotypes. These stereotypes are in fact already present at school, long before women enter the workforce.

We had the opportunity to talk to Scilla Signa, CEO of hackher_, about her own experience in the IT sector and how her work and personal path inspired her to embark on this project.

“My career in the IT sector started by chance. I studied Russian, Serbian and Croatian at University and had no knowledge of the tech world, but I had developer friends that founded a co-op linked to the Libera association and desperately needed help interacting with clients that were looking for a sales representative. I started working with them, and they taught me everything I know, making me fall in love with the IT world.” explains Scilla.

After that, Scilla worked as a freelancer for big tech companies in the north of Italy and started focusing on technological education for children and teens. With a group of coaches she recruited, she offered courses on robotics, electronics, coding and more. However, “I started noticing we had no girls enrolling in our courses, and even during our open days, parents did not consider enrolling their daughters. One year on and we finally had our first girl enrolling, but she was not Italian!”

“This experience in particular made me realise we needed to do something to reduce the gender gap – even if no one was talking about gender gap and gender equality at the time – and show girls they could study and work in the IT sector too,” continues Scilla.

“Almost 3 and an half years ago, with the invaluable support of women whose professional and personal journey has led them to achieve prominent positions in every industry, I founded hackher_.”

hackher_ aims to reduce the gender gap in the high-tech sector with a project of dual significance. On one hand, each event allows more than 100 girls attending the last year of high school to get closer to the IT world by competing in a hackathon with their own tech project, on the other hand, it provides space for discussion on gender equality issues with a panel composed of women role models with leading roles in the world of entrepreneurship, institutional representatives, and business leaders.

“It’s really refreshing seeing how much these girls are invested and interested in the project: as soon as we send them all the info about the event and the registration link, we start receiving messages and applications, and some of them even contact us years after their attendance to thank us and tell us where they ended up.”

The main message our panellists and role models have for the girls attending the events is to not be afraid to make mistakes. Making mistakes allows us to gain invaluable personal and professional skills, and is inevitable, but it does not mean failing and it shouldn’t stop girls from following their dreams.

“Institutions, companies, university and the public opinion need to continue to work together to dismantle stereotypes and close the gender gap in STEM,” highlights Scilla.

“The role of companies such as Fincons is crucial, first and foremost by raising awareness on gender equality and our project through communication, and every step taken towards gender equality helps.”