13 March 2017

Firms join forces to attract more girls into STEM industries

Firms join forces to attract more girls into STEM industries

BT, Ericsson, O2 and Vodafone have come together to encourage more girls to pursue occupations in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

The four communications sector market leaders have agreed to expand and extend a mentoring scheme successfully piloted in London last year.

The ‘Step into STEM’ project, supported by women’s networks from each of the companies, is a partnership with Girls Talk London - an organisation that works to empower women to learn from others in senior business roles.

The expansion of the scheme was launched on 8 March to celebrate International Women’s Day.

Full STEM-ahead

Last year’s pilot matched young women from schools around London with a mentor from each of the businesses. This resulted in 18 girls successfully graduating at a ceremony held at Kings College London.

Now all four firms have again endorsed their commitment to the scheme in London, with BT launching a pilot in Birmingham.

During February, Girls Talk London reviewed more than 100 applications and carried out interviews and assessments. Now 30 pupils have been selected to take part in the extended scheme.

Just like the pilot, they will be matched with a mentor from BT, Ericsson, O2 or Vodafone, and will have a mentoring session each month through to October. And in July they’ll get a full week’s work experience.

Commitment from the top

All four companies have big ambitions for the programme, and the hope is that it will be rolled out to other locations across the UK through further collaboration.

Ivelina Koleva, head of global cyber security commercial bids at BT, said: “Launching an expansion of the ‘Step into STEM’ programme speaks volumes of the drive and commitment of the gender equality networks of BT, Ericsson, Vodafone and O2.”

She added: “There are so many STEM career opportunities for women to pursue and we are excited about the role we can play in continuing to inspire and support female school leavers who may be considering such a career. This year BT is piloting the scheme in Birmingham and we’re very keen to turn it into another success story."