In the rapidly evolving world of science and technology, the need for diversity in thought, perspective, and innovation has never been more critical. Yet, women and girls still need to be represented in Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics, Arts and Design (STEAMD). This disparity is not just a matter of social justice; it’s a lost opportunity for global development, innovation, and sustainability.
Understanding the Current Landscape
Despite making up half of the global population, women only account for 28% of the workforce in STEAMD fields, according to data from UNESCO. This gap starts early, with girls often discouraged from pursuing math and science in school due to stereotypes and a lack of role models. The result is a talent pipeline that leaks potential female STEAMD innovators at every stage, from education to career.
Barriers to Entry for Marginalised Girls
The barriers for young women in STEAMD are numerous and interlinked. They range from societal and cultural norms that steer girls away from science and tech fields to educational systems that do not encourage participation in these areas. Furthermore, workplace environments in STEM fields often perpetuate gender biases, lack of mentorship, and unequal growth opportunities, contributing to high attrition rates among women.
The Change we’re Making at iamtheCODE
iamtheCODE is the first African-led global movement to mobilise governments, the private sector, philanthropic foundations, investors and civil society to advance STEAMED (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Mathematics, Entrepreneurship, and Design) education. Its goal is to mobilise these groups to invest in future technologies that can drive sustainable development for women and girls in marginalised communities. We aim to enable 1 million young women and girls coders by 2030.
Through the iamtheCODE Academy, which was started by Senegalese-born British entrepreneur Lady Marieme Jamme in the Kakuma refugee camp and Kalobeyei Settlement, the movement is making a significant advancement in education and skill development in challenging environments. By offering coding classes, mentorship, and support to young women and girls, especially in marginalised communities, iamtheCODE is equipping them with valuable digital skills and empowering them to become innovators and leaders in the tech space.
Why More Women in STEAMD Matters
Increasing women’s participation in STEAMD is not just beneficial for women; it’s essential for the planet and all its people. Diverse teams are shown to be more innovative and effective in solving complex problems. With women in STEAMD, we can ensure a broader range of perspectives in tackling significant global challenges such as climate change, healthcare, and sustainable development. Furthermore, closing the gender gap in S.T.E.A.M.D. could add up to $28 trillion to the global GDP by 2025, according to a report by McKinsey & Company.
Looking Ahead with iamtheCODE
As we move towards a more technologically advanced and interconnected world, the role of women in S.T.E.A.M.D. will only become more vital. Organisations, governments, and societies must continue to invest in breaking down the barriers that prevent women from entering and thriving in these fields. Doing so can unlock a future of more significant innovation, equality, and Sustainability. We need to invest in Infrastructure, Connectivity and Content to give young women and girls a chance in the digital sector.
Author: Lady Marieme Jamme, Founder and CEO of iamtheCODE