To mark International Women’s Day today, Microsoft has launched its #MakeWhatsNext campaign.
The aim of the campaign is to encourage more girls to study science, maths, technology and engineering (STEM).
Mary Snapp, Corporate Vice President and Head of Microsoft Philanthropies said:
“We are acutely aware of the need to close the gender gap in the technology industry, and in all STEM fields. According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, women currently hold less than 25 percent of STEM jobs. And, globally, only 16 percent of female students graduate from STEM subjects, according to the World Economic Forum. This needs to change.”
The campaign will include a tool being launched by Microsoft and LinkedIn that demonstrates how girls can pursue their passions across industries and social causes.
This is an update of last years #MakeWhatsNext campaign which was a huge success, Mary Snapp says:
“The response to #MakeWhatsNext last year was incredible. With more than 14 million video views across social channels, it’s clear that girls’ passion is strengthened when they see female role models who have created innovations that are used in our everyday lives. As the motto goes, “If you see it, you can be it.”
Microsoft have a number of things they wish to achieve in this campaign including increasing access to computer science education:
“Education is a critical lever to empowering the next generation, yet today only half of all schools in the U.S. offer a computer science curriculum. Partly as a result of that, only 6.7 percent of U.S. girls go on to graduate with STEM degrees, according to BestColleges.com. Among our initiatives to address this challenge, Microsoft provides free computer science learning opportunities and resources throughout the year, via partners including Boys and Girls Clubs of America and Girls Who Code, to reach students of all ages through our YouthSpark program. More than 80 percent of the students who benefit from YouthSpark initiatives globally are from underserved communities, and more than half are female.” says Marry Snapp.
They also wish to support female inventors, as Mary Snapp also says:
“Women currently hold only 7.5 percent of all patents and represent only up to 15 percent of all inventors — at this rate it will take another 140 years for women to obtain parity with their male counterparts. In response, a year ago, Microsoft launched a Patent Program to spur patent creation by leveraging Microsoft’s patent law resources. The program aims to eliminate several barriers to filing for patents including legal guidance and funding, a critical step to empowering women to turn their brilliant ideas into businesses. Among the beneficiaries so far is a group of six young women who invented the world’s first real-time text-to-braille converter.”
It’s important that companies are coming out for International Womens Day, and I’ll leave the last word to Mary Snapp again:
“We started a movement to inspire girls, as well as the parents, educators and nonprofits who encourage and support them, to #MakeWhatsNext. With more encouragement and focused effort, we can address barriers that have been keeping girls out of STEM for far too long. We hope that you’ll join us in growing this movement by sharing these inspiring stories and resources with your friends and family.”