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Research by e-skills UK shows that while girls consistently outperform boys in IT-related subjects at school, they rarely continue with these studies or choose careers in technology. To encourage more girls to think seriously about technology and business, IBM needed to reach out and dispel the myths associated with the industry.
Longer term the programme aims to improve the representation of women on IBM’s intern, apprentice and graduate schemes.
Girls submit CVs to their teachers for nomination - those selected then have a mock interview with mentors and other company representatives. Girls participate in a variety of individual and group activities, shadow employees and gain practical experience to increase their knowledge and skills.
Mentors also work with their school to develop a tailored programme of activities, such as:
- CV and interview workshops
- career events
- inspirational speakers
- Dragon’s Den style activities
The UKI CEO regularly participates in the annual event which sees 120 girls invited to IBM’s London office to learn about the breadth of opportunities, take part in activities and hear from inspirational women at different stages in their careers. The event is followed by work experience for more than 100 girls across 4 weeks in 3 locations.
Since its inception in 2008 the initiative has developed into a highly successful programme for girls aged 15-16 years old.
While the programme is still sponsored by the Women’s Leadership Council, it’s now led by the UK Foundation Manager who has responsibility for learning and the career development of everyone joining straight from education. This means the programme is more integrated in the business.
In 2012 the programme extended its scope to include all 300+ placement students. They’ve been challenged to return to their own school or college to encourage more young people to consider a career in business and technology. The programme has been extended further to include schools with high percentages of black, Asian and minority ethnic students.
Feedback indicates that two-thirds of girls who have attended events or work experience are likely or very likely to consider a career with IBM in the future.
Girls have given this feedback:
The Schools Outreach Programme is proving invaluable in developing students’ business leadership development skills. This is a programme we would highly recommend to other schools and companies.
The girls really liked hearing about the backgrounds of the speakers – it gave them a sense that they could do anything they put their minds to.
The shadowing was great to look at real life work in the natural environment.
I enjoyed the presentation skills master class – I used to be petrified but this has given me more confidence!
Thank you for all your work and support with the work experience – it provided students with a unique and quite outstanding learning opportunity.
I have realised there are so many different and exciting aspects and careers with this IT company.