The technology sector needs men and women who have passion and energy as well as digital skills, the head of Microsoft UK has told schoolgirls. Cindy Rose spoke to hundreds of students at Microsoft’s UK headquarters as part of a DigiGirlz event, which aims to encourage more young women to pursue jobs in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM).
Research from Microsoft earlier this year revealed that teachers and parents in the UK have a five-year window to foster girls’ interest in STEM before it starts to wane. UK girls’ interest in STEM subjects peaks at the age of 11 but then falls by 16. In addition, less than half (43%) of those surveyed said they would consider a career in STEM.
While she acknowledged there was still an issue around the lack of women in senior technology roles across the sector, Rose said digital companies have never been more open to potential applicants. “You don’t need to be a coder or amazing at maths to work in technology, that’s just not true anymore. I loved technology, and I wanted to be creative and have an effect on people’s lives. Bring energy and passion to the world; and there is a lot to be passionate about what we do. We use AI and machine learning to change people’s lives and we need the most creative people to do that. Anyone can now come into the sector, and when they do they will find that it’s a very inspiring career.”
Around 160 girls aged 12 and 13 from schools across the south of England and the Midlands took part in the 10th annual DigiGirlz event at Microsoft’s office in Reading. The youngsters heard from several employees, including recent graduates from the company’s recruitment scheme, about what a career in the technology sector was like and how firms are adapting to a world in which artificial intelligence and machine learning are changing the workplace.