The numbers say it loud and clear: when it comes to university subjects and careers in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics), women continue to represent a clear minority.
Worldwide, only 35% of the students who are enrolled in STEM faculties are women, with substantial differences concerning individual subjects. Of the women enrolled in STEM courses, only 7% opted for engineering, as opposed to 22% in the case of men (Source: World Bank, 2020). When it comes to national scientific academies, only 12% of the members are women, in spite of the fact that they make up 55% of the total number of postgraduate students on Masters and Ph.D. courses (Source: UN Women, 2021).
There is a strong correlation between gender equality and female inclusion in STEM fields if we consider that more than half of the new professions – some of which do not yet exist – will require STEM skills, a point that was highlighted in a report by McKinsey. Now is the time for women to enter this world with determination. These are professions that are characterized by higher employment rates, more accentuated career trajectories and economic remuneration, not to mention great potential in terms of empowerment.
These subjects, which are still attracting few female students, are therefore worthy of consideration. If young women don’t study them, they risk missing out on new opportunities in the job market. This will also be to the detriment of the businesses world and research, as well as society in general, which will be less innovative and less inclusive as a result.
Enel’s commitment to an inclusive and sustainable future
Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics are four distinct but closely related subjects that are increasingly integrated with the humanistic dimension of knowledge. These are the skills that will enable the professions of the future to respond to global challenges such as the energy transition, climate change and digitalization.
Inspiring young people to pursue STEM studies and careers, balancing technical and humanistic skills, is part of Enel’s tangible and long-established commitment. New educational approaches that are open and innovative provide the focus for numerous initiatives that have been launched in recent years with the aim of creating an inclusive context in which young men and women can feel comfortable in the spaces where tomorrow is being imagined and built.
Over time Enel has created a strong bond with schools and universities around the world, using various tools like shadowing, summer camps, and tours of the Group’s offices and facilities, as well as orientation pathways and workshops to promote the development of transferable skills.
“We need to work in schools in order to encourage female pupils to opt for further study in science,” explained Michele Crisostomo, Chair of the Enel Group, when speaking at the Women’s Forum G20 – the international event held in October 2021 at the Polytechnic University of Milan – to develop proposals and genuine solutions in the name of “She-Covery,” the post-pandemic recovery program that places women at the center.
This approach has seen the creation of Back to School, the STEM initiative that operates alongside the already broad and varied range of projects that we have introduced in the different countries where Enel is present. In the last six years, more than 20,000 female students have been involved worldwide.
A comparison between generations
Back to School is a format involving Enel professionals who visit high schools to talk with young people and promote the importance of STEM training in relation to the careers of tomorrow.
The program has already been launched in Italy, Spain, South Africa, Greece, Colombia, Chile, Argentina and Peru and, in the second half of 2022, it will be launched in Romania and North America.
Back to School is based on a practical and concrete approach that opens windows onto the future for young people so that they can become fully aware of their own educational choices. Although the focus of the initiative is the school, the project goes beyond the classroom: the goal is to create a discussion between two generations. On one hand, the professionals who share their stories and expertise and, on the other, the students who are encouraged to reflect on the stereotypes that still prevent them from taking an interest in STEM subjects.
“Back to School was really exciting for me as the mother of a STEM girl who loves math. The future is in STEM because all professions will need these skills and women can’t afford to miss out on this opportunity. I say to girls: Don’t imitate others just to be accepted, don’t be afraid to make mistakes and don’t feel guilty when you do, just keep on trying, always. Back to School is an opportunity to break down many stereotypes together that are still present among girls”.
Aurora Viola, Head of Market Italy, Enel
Back to School will offer the young people taking part some interesting and innovative educational opportunities to move closer to the world of work, expand their network and improve their career prospects.
Students in their third and fourth year of high school will be able to access career counseling and conversations about specific issues so that they can make more informed choices about their future studies and careers. They will also have access to shadowing, i.e., spending the working day alongside a professional in order to understand the mechanisms and working language and opportunities available with STEM studies. In Italy female students about to complete high school can take part in a challenge to win a scholarship that will cover the fees for a three-year degree in a STEM subject at one of our national public academic partners.