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Microsoft and Ivey seek to inspire women to pursue a tech career

  • Communications
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  • Feb 2, 2016
Microsoft and Ivey seek to inspire women to pursue a tech career

Microsoft GirlSpark Camp 2016 participants

With an equal number of men and women attending Hong Kong universities, why is it that men still outnumber women in the subjects of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM)? Why are men still dominating the workforce in the tech sector?

“The reasons for this are numerous,” said Su-Mei Thompson, CEO of The Women’s Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to improving the lives of women and girls in Hong Kong. “It varies from schools and parents not encouraging girls to pursue science and math; to a lack of exposure to female role models; to girls feeling uncomfortable with tech-related, male-dominated learning and work environments.”

This is why Microsoft Hong Kong has partnered with Ivey and The Women’s Foundation for the third year in a row on GirlSpark, a four-day camp that exposes young women to the wide range of opportunities available to them in the technology industry. GirlSpark aims to inspire more young women in Hong Kong to consider a career in Information and Communications Technology (ICT).

During the four-day camp, participants took part in activities, including leadership forums, networking opportunities, and career coaching sessions led by innovative leaders from across different industries. The participants were given an opportunity to solve a real-world problem through a business case challenge.

“As a leading case-method business school, we are delighted to produce a custom case on Enterprise Social for this camp,” said Professor Chris WH Chan, Associate Dean, Ivey Asia. “This case places participants in a real-world business situation at Microsoft, for whom they will generate creative and out-of-the-box applications. We are confident that participants’ experience as a Microsoft decision maker will spark productive careers in the technology industry.”

This year, among the 60 female participants, 72 per cent studied subjects outside of STEM.

“There is still a lot of work to be done in solving gender diversity and talent shortage issues in ICT,” said Horace Chow, General Manager of Microsoft Hong Kong. “Microsoft hopes to raise public awareness and will lead the way in solving these issues. This year, we extend the program to secondary school students, hoping to stimulate their interests in IT at their early ages.”

GirlSpark has been a great success. More than 40 per cent of GirlSpark alumni attained a job in the ICT industry after graduation.

Of the 40 GirlSpark participants at this year’s camp who completed a feedback survey, 38 stated they plan to join the ICT industry after graduation. Yody Chiu Mei Ka, a Global Business Studies student at Chinese University of Hong Kong, is one of them.

“I’ve always been fascinated by technology, but I have never had much exposure,” she said. “GirlSpark Camp gave me insight into the variety of roles within the ICT industry and showed me just how interesting it can be.”