The fact that technology-science sector does not stand out for the high presence of women is well-known. Recent research by CA Technologies EC has given the umpteenth confirmation of this of this but developing also some interesting thoughts and some new proposals.
The research is entitled "Female Innovation: technology, humanistic culture and creativity – The future STEAM: Science, Tech, Engineering, Arts & Maths", and was done in cooperation with the Fondazione Sodalitas Netconsulting cube.
The study confirms what is in plain view to all: the low presence of women in technical and scientific areas. The reason, according to 72% of the human resources managers interviewed is the scarcity of graduates in STEM disciplines (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths). The same managers (83%) agree on the fact that the presence of women in development teams can be an added value and also have a positive impact on company business. In particular this is because women are attributed specific soft skills considered strategic in the field of development and innovation, such as problem solving ability, openness to change and agility in lateral thinking.
Similar reasons motivate the first significant opening that the survey highlights: the increasing demand for humanistic profiles in research teams that deal with Big Data, artificial intelligence or robotics. Excellent opportunities for involving girls with heterogeneous interests who have studied more traditionally humanistic subjects. From this we get the acronym STEAM: Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts & Maths.
The line of thought however cannot stop here as it would be like saying that women can contribute to the technological development only in the capacity of lateral and creative thinking and subordinate to technical skills and expertise.
The discussion on whether or not girls can write code does not arise. The question is whether they know they are able to do it. Do they know what lies behind this possibility?
Nicola Palmarini, in her book entitled Le infiltrate,makes the point well. On "the discussion on whether or not girls can write code does not arise," she writes. "They can. The question is whether they know they are able to do it. Do they know what lies behind this possibility?".
In effect, the interviews conducted on the sample of students involved have confirmed that information and training are crucial to building the horizon of possibilities and the interests of the students.
According to the data collected on university course preferences, only 30% of the girls (against the 53% of the boys) prefer a STEM bachelor degree. And of this 30 %, it should be pointed out, the overwhelming majority is oriented toward medicine (88%) and chemistry. While very few women opt for physics, computer science, engineering or mathematics.
This fact is not surprising. From the interviews it also emerges that, despite 70% of boys and 59% of girls saying they did not feel influenced by their parents, 23% of the girls admit to being directed toward humanistic studies (against the 6% of the boys) and only 12% (compared to 21%) oriented toward STEM studies.
In the same way, also as regards the perception of their own abilities,50% of males think they have a flare for mathematics against 30% of the girls, a percentage for females which decreases with age (between the ages of 7 and 11 the percentage is in fact is 50%). Lastly, 80% of the girls believe that boys of the same age have greater career opportunities.
All this demonstrates the importance of projects that aim to widen not only the range of practical possibilities but also what is perceived as feasible and within the reach of a young female student. This was also said by Neelie Kroes, EU Commissioner for the digital agenda from 2010 to 2014: "Technology is too important to be left only to the men".