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March 8th, 2014 will mark International Women’s Day (IWD). This day has helped build worldwide support for women’s rights and participation in the political and economic arenas. The theme for this year, as set forth by the United Nations, is ‘equality for women is progress for all’. Within the scope of this year’s theme, we here at SAP want to recognize partner organizations that are making strides towards equalizing the gender technology gap and propelling women into the fields of STEM.

According to the Department of Commerce, women account for only 24% of the STEM workforce. The underrepresentation of women in STEM means that there is a wealth of talent that is not being encouraged. They also found that women earn, on average, 33% more than when they work in these high-tech fields. It is for these reasons we need to support organizations that encourage female participation in STEM.

The GIRLsmarts program, organized by the University of British Columbia’s (UBC) Computer Science department, has been educating and empowering girls in technology for over ten years. This year was special as SAP and UBC held the first GIRLsmarts workshop, a one-day computer science workshop for 65, Grade 7, girls. The workshop was a full day event dedicated to teaching the basics of programming, building interactive games and mixing music.

In New York, a similar effort of closing the gender disconnect in technology is being made by ‘Girls Who Code.’ Their Summer Immersion Program pairs seven weeks of intensive instruction in robotics, web design, and mobile development with engaging, career-focused mentorship and exposure led by the industry’s top female entrepreneurs and engineers. In August 2013, the SAP New York office hosted 20 young women from Girls Who Code for a Business Women’s Network (BWN)-sponsored “Business Basics” workshop. After a brief introduction to SAP and our technology solutions, the girls were led through round robin sessions where they discussed interview tips and tricks with SAP BWN volunteers and then were provided targeted 1:1 feedback on their growing resumes.

This past January, female leaders from the SAP NSQ location hosted a TechShop event for the young women in the TechGirlz program. ‘Tech Girlz’ is an organization dedicated to helping adolescent girls understand that a future in technology does not necessarily equate to ‘a boring computer job,’ but instead transcends the cubicle into nearly every field imaginable. They offer technology events, classes, programs, projects, mentors and resources necessary to inspire young women. The girls joined the “Create an Awesome App! Develop an App for Girls like You” workshop to design and create a working prototype. They also heard from SAP senior leaders about their careers and experiences as technology leaders. 

Using technology to unlock the potential of women is just one way we can help foster equality and progress. Initiatives like these close the gender gap and integrate women into the STEM fields. Please help up celebrate this International Women’s Day by logging on to http://sap.benevity.org and donating to the organizations that are making this possible.

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