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Inspiring girls to Step into STEM
by Ana-Rosa Broster, Senior Payments Product Manager, O2, Telefonica UK
Last month we hosted 26 girls at a work insight day at our HQ in Slough as part of the Step into STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) mentoring programme organised by GirlsTalkLondon and run in conjunction with BT, Vodafone, and Ericsson.
Step into STEM is a seven-month mentoring programme aimed at encouraging schoolgirls to pursue a career in STEM. Each girl is given a mentor from one of the businesses taking part and they receive one-to-one sessions covering a range of things including CV skills and interview techniques as well as guidance on getting involved in STEM subjects.
The work insight day was a fantastic opportunity to demonstrate some of the great things we do for our customers at O2 and how STEM can be applied in the real world. For example, we’re providing connectivity for McDonald’s and its customers, and we’re also supporting innovative tech start-ups through our corporate start-up accelerator, Wayra. Much of the day was also dedicated to The Lab, O2’s innovation engine, which is exploring many technologies relevant to business, such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, voice control, and virtual reality. On the day the girls had a chance to try out virtual and mixed reality experiences that The Lab came up with as well as get their heads 3D-scanned.
This is my second year helping to coordinate the Step into STEM program and seeing how much the girls get out of it makes it all the more rewarding. STEM in general is a particular passion of mine after I studied manufacturing engineering and technology management at university. As the recent A-level results have shown, the number of girls studying STEM subjects is particularly low, so programmes like these are important to show them just how interesting it can be.
I’d encourage more companies to follow suit and put their own programmes in place. Young people of today are the talent of tomorrow so engaging them early not only helps them to consider future career paths, but they could well be the next company leader.