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Looking Forward: Disrupting the Social Norm

Sarah Atkinson, Vice President, Communications and Executive Sponsor for Gender Diversity at CA Technologies, EMEA. Sarah is Vice Chair of The Skills & Diversity Council and board member at techUK.

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Europe’s ability to innovate and advance is threatened by the skills gap. Bold moves need to be made to shift young people’s perceptions of STEM subjects and prepare them with 21st century skills and competencies to thrive in a digital world. Furthermore, gender stereotyping must be tackled – empowering girls and women builds sustainable business. From classroom to boardroom, we all have an urgent responsibility to encourage more women to work and succeed in STEM-related careers.

As referenced by the World Economic Forum, can we afford to wait until 217 years to close the economic gender gap between men and women? There are strong economic arguments about why we should care and respond. McKinsey research shows that organisations are 15% more likely to perform better if they are gender diverse. Added to this, it has been found that companies with more than 30% women in management positions have seen a 25% increase in profit rates on average.

Through Create Tomorrow, we are nurturing a culture of diversity and inclusion both inside and outside CA Technologies to inspire girls to study STEM subjects and support the advancement of women in STEM. With diversity in our DNA, our aim is to help address the gender imbalance by building positive perceptions of women in STEM and encouraging the next generation of females to enter STEM related careers.

Thrive, our global diversity and inclusion programme, is led by employees to help build a culture that is all-inclusive. As part of Thrive, we have a dedicated Gender Employee Resource Group, tasked with driving a greater level of gender balance across our European business and tackling gender stereotyping in the industry. This group provides counsel to ensure CA Technologies has policies, procedures and facilities in place to attract and retain female talent within our business. Each of our programmes is centred on our strong female role models, who are important in breaking down gender stereotypes and encouraging young females to consider future careers in STEM. But what can be done earlier to avoid gender stereotyping?

In almost every society, gender stereotyping is influenced from an early age shaped by ideas passed on from parents, family members, peers and by media. Girls are often expected to play with dolls and crayons, and boys with cars and more technical toys. This begins at home and continues in the classroom, and then often the workplace. These behaviours develop strong misconceptions about STEM, and can lead to girls feeling less confident about their abilities to do STEM. These “social norms” are having a far deeper impact on girls and young women than we may realise. The Girlguiding organisation’s recent survey, Girls’ Attitudes Survey 2017, revealed the overwhelming message that girls and young women believe gender stereotypes are entrenched in all areas of their lives. From a young age, girls sense they face different expectations compared to boys and feel a pressure to adjust their behaviour accordingly.

Parents and teachers have the potential to be influential role models to eliminate gender stereotyping. Teachers often underestimate the significant role they could play in countering gender stereotypes in STEM. A crucial step towards making a positive impact as role models, is to understand our own bias’ – and CA Technologies has taken this forward by rolling out unconscious bias training session opportunities to all its employees in Europe. Looking Forward: Disrupting the Social Norm 27 • White Paper • CA Technologies Corporate Social Responsibility in Europe

To take this further, through our partnership with STEM Alliance, CA Technologies will introduce teacher placements in Europe this year, where our STEM ambassadors will deliver unconscious bias training sessions to help teachers identify and manage stereotyping in the classroom.

In September 2017, CA STEM Ambassadors across Europe were trained to deliver the People Like Me campaign

Delivering the People Like Me campaign has extended our reach to include parents. By running interactive workshops with parents and their daughters, we have opened a new channel to help change perceptions about STEM careers, and provide enriching volunteering experiences for our STEM Ambassadors who are trained to deliver the campaign. People Like Me will soon expand across Europe to be delivered in French, German, Spanish, Czech and Italian by our STEM Ambassadors.

Looking forward in 2018, our goal for Create Tomorrow is to reach 50,000 under-18 school students in Europe by 2020 – and through our role models, STEM ambassadors, and partnerships – continue to inspire them to consider future careers in STEM.

Addressing gender stereotyping is complex and multifaceted, and for substantial change to happen we should work collaboratively – education, governments and industry. Collectively we must break down gender stereotypes, make STEM subjects fun in the classroom and provide role models who are essential in helping girls imagine themselves in these exciting and game-changing roles.

By addressing these challenges through multi-stakeholder partnerships, we can all play a major role in driving a more sustainable, prosperous and inclusive society. 

Inspiring the Innovators of Tomorrow

Corporate Social Responsibility in Europe - Create Tomorrow

Chapter 4

Skills for a Future-proof Europe

Executive Summary

Introduction from Marco Comastri, General Manager, EMEA, CA Technologies