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BT, alongside networking firms Ericsson, O2 and Vodafone, has struck an agreement to expand and extend a mentoring scheme – first piloted last year – to encourage more girls to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (Stem).
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The Step into Stem project, supported by internal women’s networks from all four of the companies involved, is a partnership with Girls Talk London, a mentoring organisation that aims to empower women to learn from others in business roles.
The pilot, which was launched ahead of International Women’s Day 2016, saw 18 young women from schools around London matched with a mentor from each of the businesses involved over the course of the year. They subsequently graduated from the scheme at the ceremony conducted at Kings College London.
Over the past month, Girls Talk London has been reviewing more than 100 applications and conducting interviews and assessments, and 30 have now been selected to be taken forward onto the extended scheme. As before, they will be matched with a mentor from BT, Ericsson, O2 or Vodafone, and will receive one mentoring session a month through to October 2017, as well as a week’s work experience in July.
BT’s Ivelina Koleva, head of global cyber security commercial bids, said this new stage of the programme would be far more ambitious, and revealed plans to test it in other cities – it will be piloted in Birmingham this year.
“Launching an expansion of the Step into Stem programme speaks volumes of the drive and commitment of the gender equality networks of BT, Ericsson, Vodafone and O2. There are so many career opportunities for women to pursue and we are excited about the role we can play in continuing to inspire and support female school leavers who may be considering such a career,” said Koleva.
Read more about women in Stem
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Federica Mills, head of sourcing UK and chairwoman of the UK Women Network at Ericsson, said: “I am proud to lead the Step into Stem mentoring programme for Ericsson for the second consecutive year and to have the opportunity to once again offer mentorship and guidance to more young women at such an important stage of their lives.
“This is a brilliant and concrete example of Ericsson’s commitment to addressing the gender imbalance and attracting female talent in the ICT industry. Working together, we will have more young women pursuing studies in Stem subjects and considering careers in ICT,” she added.