Microsoft ESA DigiGirlz Initiative pushes for more Women in ICT

Microsoft East and Southern Africa DigiGirlz Initiative in Kenya for more women in ICT and leadership
Annie Njenga from Nokia w/ girls @DigiGirlz Kenya 2012

Over 200 girls from high schools in Nairobi County today received career guidance from the Microsoft DigiGirlz day. The event themed “Girls get IT” took the fervent and determined young women through various ICT topics on the latest innovations in technology and opportunities in the sector. Microsoft hopes to significantly increase the number of young women involved in technology-focused careers. DigiGirlz’ purpose is to dispel myths of what it means to have a career in the high-tech industry and give girls a chance to experience first-hand what it is like to develop cutting-edge technology. 

Currently, out of the over 200,000 students that begin university, only about 20 percent choose a career in IT, leaving a huge technological gap in the job market. 

Microsoft’s DigiGirlz day strives to provide young women with the necessary expertise and direction to succeed in a world becoming more dependent on the latest technologies and innovations,” said Lorraine Maina, Marketing and Operations Lead, Microsoft East and Southern Africa. “We believe that this event will help dismiss any stereotypes of the high-tech industry catering solely to males.” 

Throughout the day students were engaged by different speakers from partner organizations among them the Kenya ICT board, a co- sponsor of the event,  who encouraged them to stay active in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) programs and to pursue degree courses in technology related fields. “Events such as Digigirlz help demystify the industry by profiling successful Kenyan women in IT. Relevant role models are essential in creating an interest in the IT field and helping young women visualize a career in IT,” said Catherine Ngahu, Kenya ICT Board Chairperson, “However, an interest in IT does not only prepare women for a career but also empowers them with ability to leverage technology in their daily lives to access information and convert it into knowledge.” 

Digigirlz is one of Microsoft’s signature programs to invest in education for young women and build a pipeline of future workers ready for the challenges of the global economy. 

Nearly 19,000 students have attended the Microsoft DigiGirlz Technology Programs (both camps and one-day events) since they began in 2000. DigiGirlz gives girls the opportunity to meet one-on-one with Microsoft employees, participate in workshops and product demonstrations. Through DigiGirlz, Microsoft wants to show that they are bringing up a new generation of innovative women leaders and helping girls change their future through the use of technology. 

With focus on supporting youth development worldwide, Microsoft recently introduced Microsoft Youth Spark, an initiative designed to create opportunities for hundreds of millions of the world’s unemployed youths.

The new global initiative, aims to create opportunities for 300 million youth in more than 100 countries in the next three years. 

“This companywide initiative includes DigiGirlz, Citizenship and other company programs — both new and enhanced —that empower youth to imagine and realize their full potential by connecting them with greater opportunities for education, employment and entrepreneurship”. said Lorraine Maina

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