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April 28, 2009

Nokia encourages girls to pursue careers in IT through ‘shadowing days’

HELSINKI, Finland – Nokia is involved in a number of initiatives to help develop and support the ambitions of young people (such as YouthActionNet), and similarly raise awareness for crucial global concerns such as sustainability (see Dreams Workshop). This week our attention was drawn to a program that Nokia has been supporting since 2007, started by the European Commission with a view to addressing the lack of women in IT careers. To tackle this problem, Nokia joined the ‘shadowing days’ scheme, which sees girls visit Nokia and shadow the women working there to get a much greater understanding of the life and careers of women working in this area, and as the EU Commission puts it, prove that technology is not “strictly for geeks!”.

Recently a 13 year-old girl called Rosemarie Hartman, with ambitions to study Maths, Science and Technology, visited Nokia headquarters to do exactly that, and created a video diary of her day shadowing women within the company, from meetings about Comes With Music to teleconferences about recycling and a visit to the Nokia flagship store in Helsinki. It’s a great little video, that gives a candid insight into how the ‘shadowing day’ program works as well as a peek behind the scenes at Nokia House. Click to watch the full video.

Here’s what Rose had to say about her experience at Nokia on her ‘shadowing day’:

“The whole day was really interesting. I am sure that studying mathematics and science becomes much more interesting for me in the future as I know what kind of environment I could end up working in. Women have really good opportunities to advance and work on the same conditions as male engineers. This day has definitely given me a motivation boost and I would recommend a visit like this to all teenagers in my age. Thank you for giving me this opportunity – hope to see you again in the future!”

Viviane Reding is EU Commissioner for Information Society and Media, and the woman originally behind the shadowing days initiative.

“Getting more women into ICT careers would be a force for change and a major boost for this key economic sector in Europe”

How important do you think youth schemes like this are for our economies, and just as significant, our societies? Are there any similar programs you know of that you’d like to mention here. Let us know your thoughts below.