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Seeking to encourage the growth of women in the engineering, IT and science sectors, Microsoft has launched an initiative for high school girls in India. Called DigiGirlz, the programme aims to foster awareness about careers and research in the fields. India and Brazil have been highlighted as the focus countries for this initiative.
The DigiGirlz endeavour will provide a platform for the employees of Microsoft and other technology companies to interact with female student demographic, introducing them to the opportunities available in the science and technology fields, through workshops and other events. The initiative is specifically aimed at Class 8 or 9 students, between ages of 12-14, to ensure the students have sufficient time to prepare and make the relevant choices for their careers.
The DigiGirlz initiative is not new, and was originally kicked-off in 2000 by the Redmond giant. Speaking about the introduction of the DigiGirlz initiative in India to TOI, Jacky Wright, VP of Microsoft IT, said: "Lack of women in sciences and engineering is a global problem. Awareness is the key. The students are aware of technology more than ever before. Almost 100% of them have Facebook accounts, but the idea is to make them think of technology as a career." Referring to such female industry stalwarts as Marissa Mayer and Sheryl Sandberg, Wright added: “Girls need to see role models. If they see it can be done, they will do it.”
According to statistics quoted by TOI, women account for less than 15 percent of the students at the various Indian Institute of Technology campuses, and this figure is only marginally bigger in lower-tier science and technology institutions. TOI also quotes a National Association of Software and Services Companies estimate, which says that fairer sex makes up roughly 30 percent (or roughly 800,000 employees) of the IT-related BPO workforce.
The Microsoft DigiGirlz initiative commenced in India last week at an event in Hyderabad, when roughly 80 students visited Microsoft’s offices in the city. According to TOI, Microsoft intends to carry out this initiative to other major cities in the country.
The company also plans to expand its Microsoft Springboard programme, started in Hyderabad last year, to other cities in India, starting with New Delhi and Bangalore. The programme is aimed at encouraging female engineers who had given up their careers to concentrate on family to start a second career.