VHTO, National Expert Organisation Girls/Women and Science/Technology
Netherlands, 2014, April 24
In the Netherlands girls and women are underrepresented in science and technology compared to their male counterparts. VHTO, the Dutch national expert organisation on girls/women and science/technology, makes an effort in many different ways to increase the involvement of women and it is important to increase the participation of girls and women in the education of science, technology and IT. Since 2006 VHTO has been the coordinator and initiator of the Dutch Girlsday. The aim of Girlsday is to encourage girls to become familiar with science, technology and ICT from a young age. On Girlsday, a huge number of technology companies, higher education institutions and science centres all open their doors for girls aged 10 to 15. The girls are offered the opportunity to participate in interesting activities organised specially for them, and to see first-hand how science and technology are used in everyday professional practice.
All sorts of companies and organisations open their doors to girls on Girlsday. Science centres and science/technology study programmes at research universities and universities of applied sciences take part, along with technical departments in hospitals and amusement parks. In other words, technology does not actually have to be the company's core business for it to take part in Girlsday and to show girls how their technology works.
Much of women's talent in science and technology remains untapped because girls are often unaware of the range of technological professions available to them. By participating in Girlsday, companies can open girls' minds to technology and influence their choice of career. If they know what is out there, these girls will be more likely to develop an interest in pursuing science, technology or ICT. Companies that have taken part in Girlsday in previous years have found that their staff enjoys engaging with these pupils and investing in future generations. Companies also value the relationships they build up with schools in the region, and participation in the scheme contributes positively to their image as socially responsible companies.
Girlsday is an annual event and more and more girls participate through their schools. In 2010 2,600 Girls participated, in 2014 this number has risen to 8400 girls. Girlsday becomes more and more embedded in the curriculum of the school and is part of the career guidance activities. More and more companies are aware of the need to start at an early stage to awake and retain interest amongst girls in science, technology and IT.
In 2014 308 companies opened their doors; among these were many IT-oriented companies and IT-departments of multinationals. Participating organizations in the field of ICT were for example: Cisco, Oracle, IBM and Orange Business Services. And the official launch of Girlsday took place at IBM-the Netherlands where almost 100 girls learned more about (working in) IT.
A list of all participating companies: http://www.girlsday.nl/deelnemers.html
For more information: http://www.girlsday.nl/servicelinks/girlsday-in-english.html
In 2015 Girlsday will take place on Thursday April the 23rd.