Girlsday Amsterdam: Opening the Door to STEM Opportunities

By Salesforce.org | April 19, 2017 | , | STEM

By: Valerie Brokamp-Meza, Employee Engagement Manager, Salesforce.org

Although the number of females in the Netherlands graduating with a STEM related qualification is growing, it is still well below where it needs to be. Increasing demands from the employment sector, and shifting skill set requirements to secure careers is rightly pushing us to ensure that females are encouraged and supported throughout their STEM learning development.

During National Girlsday in the Netherlands (13th April), more than 300 companies took the opportunity to support young females in STEM by opening their doors and inviting them to participate in workplace led programs. Studies across the EU have confirmed that extra-curricular activities related to science and technology can have a significant impact for young people for future career choices.  

The National Girlsday, organised by nonprofit VHTO,  reaches 10,000 young females aged between 10 and 15 years  and continues to be an important initiative to drive the upward trend in STEM subject adoption.

“The world will soon be a large digital world with jobs related to IT which is why Girlsday is so important.” says Anouska Post, Regional Vice President, Enterprise Corporate Sales at Salesforce.

Girlsday at Salesforce Amsterdam

As part of the Salesforce and Salesforce.org Girlsday 2017 program we were delighted to welcome a group of 30 young females into our offices to participate in a program aimed at opening their eyes to opportunities in STEM and showing them the creative side of STEM subjects.

Girls Day Amsterdam

The day kicked off with a panel of young Salesforce employees explaining the insights of their workday. By sharing their experiences, the young girls got a better understanding of the variety of interesting jobs in IT.  We were also delighted to welcome Zoe Muller, a young ICT student from MBO College Zuidoost, on the panel who offered insights into what it’s like to take an ICT subject at third level education and how young people can start their STEM journey in secondary education with selective subject choices.

“I don’t want girls to be scared to go into the ICT world,” said Zoe. “They should just try it out. If you like to crack difficult puzzles you will find a great fit with ICT.  My advice to young girls is to go and explore several  schools, and the programs they offer, you will be surprised by the great possibilities.”

Participants at Girlsday in Salesforce Amsterdam got hands on during the second part of the day where they took part in a workshop to imagine, design and show their own apps. Working with Salesforce mentors, the young females were put to the test as they went through a conceptual thinking process to imagine and brainstorm their ideas and then sketched the concept, working through iterations until they produced their final designs and workflows which they then presented to judges from the Senior Salesforce EMEA team.

Girls Day Netherlands

Apps which were presented included Fast Favourites, an ingenious app designed to help people uncover which sports might best suit their interests and personality. The designers, Sophie, Iris Yaden, Lila and Floor  (12 and 13 year olds) even thought to include a character which users could style in a way that suited their own personalities.

Another app developed on the day was called Nothing is Nothing, and was created by Mila, Dana and Mayara (12 and 13 year olds). “I learned how much brainstorming is needed to create a new app and not a lot of people appreciate that,” said Mila.

The Nothing for Nothing app was targeted at young people, to use when they are “bored”. The app provides different suggestions according to the users age, hobbies, gender and mood, and makes suggestions for potential activities to do during those “bored” periods. The app also has a social aspect, which allows users to connect to peers via a social integration.

One of the parents who accompanied their daughter shared: “I think it’s a great experience for girls to know more about technology. They grow up around apps and it’s great for them to use their creativity and understand how to build fun apps. For myself it was really interesting to see how a technology company is so open to host and inspire young people on this topic”.

Salesforce in the Netherlands has ongoing programs to support young people in STEM which are supported by Salesforce volunteers and mentors. Coding Clubs at the Salesforce office offer young people a fun, informal environment to learn to code and we are also excited to launch a robotics class in July. Keep an eye out for our hackathons planned throughout the year too 🙂

More information about Girlsday and how you can get involved can be found here >