How SAP Software & Solutions is helping inspire young women to pursue careers in tech.

By Kate Morgan (Head of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Strategic Partnerships for North America, SAP Software & Solutions)

women2-sponsored-blog-postThe SAP Palo Alto office transformed into a workspace for 60 middle school girls on a Saturday this fall. Giving up their day off and getting out of their comfort zones, these middle school students were there for a day-long workshop in computer science and technology – Girlsmarts4tech. The hope? To inspire these young women to pursue careers in tech.

Despite growing career opportunities in technology, fewer women are opting for them. Less than 20 percent of bachelor’s degrees in computer science in the U.S. went to women in 2010-11, falling from 37 percent in 1983-84. Silicon Valley is criticized for having a culture unwelcoming of women that strengthens the notion technology is only for boys. Changing the norm requires that we develop the next generation of women innovators in technology with multiple engaging experiences. This workshop looked to create one such opportunity.

With GIRLsmarts4tech, we seek to provide a creative and supportive environment for middle school girls to explore technology with hands-on experiences. While the workshop was open to all in Silicon Valley, we thought it important to reach out to girls who do not necessarily have access to technology on a daily basis.

The workshop involved learning how to edit and mix music, create web pages, program games and even design an app. The girls were keen to know when they could return for another such day. Initiated by the SAP office in Vancouver, GIRLsmarts4tech was brought to Palo Alto by employees who saw a need in the community. We hope to develop a series of the one-day workshops, ideally involving our business partners and neighbors in Silicon Valley.

At SAP, we seek to make technology accessible and engaging for all young people through other programs as well.  Through strategic partnerships with nonprofits, we support programs hat focus on inspiring the next generation. Our employees volunteer with Junior Achievement to introduce high school students to the world of business and on a program with KIPP where involve students in solving social problems with science and technology. In June, we launched the first of our BTECH high schools in New York focused on preparing students for technology careers within the SAP ecosystem.

The future of technology offers exciting possibilities. Inspiring young people to see these opportunities and equipping them with the skills to seize them is where we as a technology company can and should contribute.

Photo by Cheryl Allison.