In celebration of International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month, Microsoft launched an educational campaign in Tripoli, Lebanon, designed to motivate schoolgirls and female university students to explore careers in the fields of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math).
The Innovation Camp, organized as part of Microsoft’s #MakeWhatsNext global campaign, was held at the Chamber of Commerce in Tripoli this March in partnership with Injaz, a non-for-profit organization that empowers youth to own their economic success. 60 female students, in the early stages of their academic careers, participated in a series of entrepreneurial and technical workshops designed to challenge the young women’s business knowledge as well as motivate them to pursue an academic path in STEM related subjects.
The Innovation Camp challenged the young women to find solutions to real business challenges using creativity, fresh approaches and team work. They received access to current information and resources, as well as guidance from trained private sector volunteers. The students were encouraged to demonstrate leadership, problem-solving skills and the ability to present critical thinking and innovative ideas under tight deadlines.
“Innovation Camps have the best elements of all our programs: energetic crowd, time-bound challenge, number of teams competing against each other, high engagement of volunteers, and the excitement of a fast-paced presentation and pitch,” said Samar Dani, Executive Director, Injaz Lebanon. “Of the 70 girls participating in the Camp, only about 10 had heard of STEM and almost none had participated in similar workshops before. As such, it was both amazing and highly motivating for us to see the energy and the excitement with which the girls tackled the challenges and the confidence they showed in presenting and pitching their ideas in front of a jury and live audience.”
Hoda Younan, Country Manager, Microsoft Lebanon, commented that the purpose of the Camp was to address the gap of female students in education programs that prepare individuals for a career in STEM related industries, such as computer science. “We have a responsibility to inspire the next generation of female science, technology, engineering, and math leaders and we are deeply invested in encouraging more girls and young women in Lebanon to pursue STEM subjects and careers because we believe equal representation in these fields can drive economic growth, improve equality and foster innovation”, Mrs Younan said.
Microsoft acknowledges that gender disparity in these fields is a multi-faceted problem, and talented girls who lack positive role models holding STEM positions, or who don’t have access to strong curricula or after school support, often are lost to the industry.
Hence, Microsoft has launched the #MakeWhatsNext program in 17 countries in the Middle East and Africa. It aims to ignite an interest in STEM subject in young students and to offer support toward women wanting to brave an industry ready for more female leaders. The campaign, which aims to upskill over 100 000 young girls and reach 10 million young women and parents, will address the stereotypes and misconceptions that often discourage young women from pursuing careers in STEM related fields. The campaign will run from International Women’s Day on 8 March and will end on the International Day for Girls in ICT on the 26 April 2018.