Bridging the Gender Gap in STEM with TechGirls

Just a couple of weeks ago, AT&T again had the privilege of taking part in TechGirls’ annual Job Shadow Day, and we are thrilled to see the program expand to reach more young minds. At AT&T, we believe in the program’s mission of empowering young women to pursue careers in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM).

TechGirls is an initiative of the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and is administered by Legacy International. This three-week program brings high school-aged young women from the Middle East, North Africa, and – for the first time this year, Central Asia –  to the United States where they have opportunities to explore their interest in STEM careers and build their digital skill-sets. When these young women return home, they present what they learned to their communities and carry out community-based projects that utilize their newly developed technical and leadership skills.

Despite ongoing efforts to bridge the gap, the tech sector remains predominantly male. Whether looking at Silicon Valley in the U.S. or the Silicon Roundabout in the UK, the same circumstances exist: women are underrepresented. Here at AT&T, we are committed to promoting diversity. We understand the value and critical importance of programs like TechGirls that empower women to take on a more significant role in creating tomorrow’s innovations.

“I am deeply grateful for all the work AT&T put into offering us such valuable knowledge. Seeing a big and impactful company through the eyes of strong willed women also made my vision for a better world seem much closer to reach.” – Rania Saadi

This year, AT&T welcomed Ines Bergadi (16) and Rania Saadi (16) both from Algeria to our Washington, D.C. offices for Job Shadow Day. Not unlike the students we’ve hosted in previous years, Ines and Rania amazed and inspired us with their dreams of changing the world. While the program’s goal is meant to encourage and inspire young women to pursue a career in STEM fields, they, too, inspire us and remind us why diversity in tech is so important.

Job Shadow Day began with a tour of the AT&T Forum for Technology and Entertainment Policy, located just up the street from the U.S. Capitol in Washington. There, Ines and Rania learned how technology is evolving to better serve our communities through demonstrations of recent AT&T innovations related to the Internet of Things and Smart Cities. The pair also had the opportunity to spend time in the DIRECTV studio and discover just what it’s like to experience a “close up” at a news anchor’s desk.

Back at our main office, the TechGirls participants met up with other young women, participants of the Girls Who Code Summer Immersion Program for high school women with an interest in coding, for an inspirational session on approaches in evoking change and empowering future women leaders.  Ines and Rania met with prominent AT&T women engineers and policy leaders who shared their own experiences and advice and provided real world examples of how they are shaping the future of tech and advancing AT&T’s initiatives related to 5G and Artificial Intelligence.

“At AT&T, I learned a lot about people and how important it is to have the right people in the right job. I also was inspired by the stories of all the people I met. In short, AT&T left a special mark in my heart.” – Ines Bergadi

AT&T is proud to have hosted TechGirls each summer since 2013, and we look forward to meeting next year’s TechGirls, Class of 2020.   Until then, we are excited to see the impact Ines and Rania – and all the TechGirls participants that came before them – will undoubtedly have in their communities and on the future of STEM.

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