Samsung repeats the DesArrolladoras program in September, which has already made it possible for more than 1,000 women to train for free in programming. The objective, to fight against the worrying gender gap in technology
n 1946 six brilliant women made history with the programming of the first electronic computer, the Eniac. Her work had been key. They built a system that could perform a complex set of mathematical operations in seconds, quite a feat for computing at the time. The project was directed by the American army and aimed to calculate ballistic trajectories. But when Eniac was released to the press, their work was not recognized. Today, however, these six women are a source of inspiration in a sector, that of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT), that still needs to take giant steps to close the gender gap.
Because in a world where technological advances go at the speed of light, female inclusion is in decline. Initiatives to empower women in this field are essential. In Europe, for example, 82.3% of the people employed in 2019 as ICT specialists were men. The figure is 4.2 percentage points higher than in 2009, according to Eurostat data . In countries like Hungary and Malta 89% of the experts were men. In the rest of the countries in the area, on average, only 2 out of 10 specialists were women. “The gender gap in the technology sector is greater than in other industries,” said Economy Minister Nadia Calviño last year during the presentation of the White Paper on women in technology.
n Spain, the gender gap causes a loss of wealth equivalent to 15% of gross domestic product (GDP), according to a recent report by the consultancy AT Kearney. While in 2009, the number of female specialists was 22.3%, a decade later it dropped to 17.1%, according to Eurostat data. “The gender gap in technology begins at school and continues through all stages of girls’ and women’s lives,” explains Sheridan Ash, PwC’s chief technology and investment officer. “There is a shortage of training,” add Samsung experts. Based on a recent survey of university students in the UK, Ash explains that only 22% of those interviewed could name a famous woman who works in technology. While two-thirds named a famous man in the industry.
“Women are not considering careers in technology, as they are not given enough information about what it means to work in the sector,” says Ash. Added to this, the lack of female models also reinforces the perception that a technology career is not for them, he adds. In the computer science faculties of Spain, the presence of women is still minimal. In the academic year 2018-2019, of the 49,860 students enrolled in Computer Science at Spanish universities, only 13% were women, according to figures from the Ministry of Education.
“The gender gap in the technology sector is a global problem and very worrisome because it represents an inestimable loss of value derived from the diversity of talent”, says Verónica Pascual, CEO of Asti Mobile Robotics and president of Asti Foundation. “To analyze the causes of this problem, we need a longitudinal vision and in three phases: from primary education to university, the first years of women’s professional careers and senior management”, he completes.
DesArrolladoras objective : reduce the gap
Faced with this dramatic reality, Samsung has created the Samsung DesArrolladoras initiative to alleviate the shortage of women in the field of STEM professions (which includes careers related to science, technology, engineering and mathematics).
In 2019 Samsung launched the second edition of the program, which consists of a free programming course for women that offers training in technologies such as big data , artificial intelligence (AI) and web programming. “The objective is to improve their preparation and favor their access to the labor market”, highlight the experts of the technology firm. “The success of the previous program, in 2018, made us launch a new call, with more content and including different training levels,” they comment.
For this, they have relied on Bejob, an expert training company of the Santillana Group. Thus, Samsung DesArrolladoras has made it possible for more than 1,000 women to train for free, without the need for prior programming knowledge. Like Marga Ceria, a student in the last year of Samsung DesArrolladoras, who was looking to turn her professional career around. “I know it’s a challenge at my age (43 years old),” he says. “But the Samsung course has been a good opportunity to introduce me to the field of artificial intelligence. A long time ago I was attracted to it and generated a lot of curiosity, ”he says. What was not expected was the universe that opened before her eyes. “She has impressed me and without a doubt I want to actively belong to her above any web development, I want to learn to make predictive models”, she highlights.
Among the female students who have already participated in the program, 76% decided to enroll to improve their curriculum, while 22% did so with prospects of employability , either to start their career in the technology sector or to refocus your professional career. 2% of the students, meanwhile, did so with the intention of undertaking at the end of the training.
According to Samsung, the idea is to continue developing new editions of the program. In fact, for September 2020 it will launch a new call. For Elena Aznar (32 years old), the Samsung DesArrolladoras course has allowed her to acquire new skills and incorporate them into her profession: digital marketing and product development. Today, you are looking for a job and you know that the knowledge you have acquired about programming, artificial intelligence and big data is a plus. “In all the job interviews I have been, they have asked me about the course and they find it curious that it has these two aspects, but now they are looking for multidisciplinary profiles,” she adds.
“It is crucial to create these types of initiatives, which promote the culture of learning STEM in women so that they are prepared and hold these jobs,” says Mariola García, director of Bejob.
How is the course?
The call for 2020 will open in September. For now, we will have to be attentive to the social networks of @ SamsungEspaña. In 2019, the selection of the participants was made by Samsung through a nationwide communication campaign, where a total of 1,000 women signed up for free, in the first phase. To access the second phase, a selection of the best was made based on the grades and progress during the course so that finally 696 girls became part of this level. 300 women went to the third phase based on their grades at the previous level. Finally, for the fourth module, a final selection was made of the 40 most outstanding students for training in artificial intelligence (AI) and big data.
On January 13, 2020, the first of the two face-to-face courses that took place in this fourth phase of the program began and which lasted until mid-April. In this first part, the 40 students with the best results were divided into two groups. The first of these groups consisted of the 450-hour classroom course, they explored, among other topics, the foundations of artificial intelligence, Natural Language processing, Machine Learning, Deep Learning, as well as the necessary programming languages in the artificial intelligence environment. In addition, in the big data module they received training on data analysis, management and storage, and acquired knowledge of programming in big data and Business Intelligence. The second group of this face-to-face course began on March 16 and ended at the end of June. Once completed and passed, the students obtained an academic certification from Samsung and the General Foundation of the University of Alcalá (FGUA).
In September, a new call for Samsung Developers will be opened to continue helping to reduce the existing gender gap in the field of STEM professions.