Students from over 20 schools discover fresh inspirations to pursue careers in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM)
Bangkok, April 3, 2019 — Microsoft (Thailand) partnered with Siri Ventures Company Limited to organize #MakeWhatsNext – DigiGirlz 2019 Thailand as part of #MakeWhatsNext, a global Microsoft initiative aimed at encouraging young women to pursue careers in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM). In Thailand, Microsoft is committed to empower female youth with coding skills using BBC’s micro:bit microcontroller. This year, the campaign drew a great deal of interest from Thai girls with a total of 145 students applying to take on the challenge.
According to a World Economic Forum report, the global gender gap in economic opportunities remains an issue that will require considerable time to resolve completely. In fact, the report predicted that it would take 202 years to close the gap. It also found that only 22% of AI professionals globally are female. By developing AI technology without diverse talent, we are limiting its innovative and inclusive capacity while also potentially introducing or neglecting gender bias in datasets and algorithms.
Mr. Dhanawat Suthumpun, Managing Director, Microsoft Thailand, said, “Without a female influence in STEM fields – which are at the heart of modern innovation – we risk having hundreds of thousands of jobs left unfilled and decades of innovation absent of female perspectives. Attracting, developing and helping women in STEM fields to thrive is vital in ensuring a well-rounded, inclusive society. This is why Microsoft has made its mission to ensure that every young student, including girls, has access to the skills and knowledge they need to succeed in the digital world.”
#MakeWhatsNext DigiGirlz 2019 Thailand was organized to inspire female Thai students to realize their potential and find the right path to success in their future STEM careers. Activities at the event included an inspirational panel discussion under the topic “High-demand jobs in AI era: Why girls should study computer science,” and a training session on how to code for micro:bit boards. As a follow-up to this event, a micro:bit coding competition will be held for campaign participants under the following schedule:
- 19 April 2019 – 9 teams are selected to present their project ideas and receive consultation from specialists as well as micro:bit hardware to develop prototypes.
- 10 May 2019 – The 9 selected teams present their prototypes and the committee announce the winners of the campaign.
“The reasons girls stray from STEM are many, from peer pressure to a lack of role models and support to a general misperception of what STEM careers look like in the real world. These factors lessen the number of women pursuing their dreams in the field. Getting more girls into STEM requires a holistic and forward-looking response, including providing girls with good learning tools, appropriate support, and mentorship that sparks interest and creativity. Microsoft is proud to be at the forefront of the movement to encourage girls to acquire ‘can-do’ attitude and adopt the growth mindset, and today’s event is one of many initiatives that will help Thailand eliminate the gender gap,” concluded Mr. Dhanawat.
Mrs. Vunnaporn Devahastin na Ayutthaya, Deputy Permanent Secretary of Ministry of Digital Economy and Society, said, “I would like to thank Microsoft and Siri Ventures for organizing such a fruitful learning initiative. As a representative of the public sector, I’m very glad to be a part of #MakeWhatsNext – DigiGirlz Thailand 2019, an activity that makes a significant contribution to female youth in their development of computer science skills. Female students in secondary education (Mathayomsuksa) and teachers who participate in this campaign are provided an opportunity to get first-hand experiences as well as support and inspiration for them to learn and develop their digital skills and use them creatively and intelligently for their careers. This will help them effectively enter the digital working society and become successful in their STEM careers in the future.”
Following the official opening ceremony, female students attending event were also inspired to pursue STEM careers by the public and private sectors covering several industries in Thailand, including the Digital Economy Promotion Agency (DEPA), the National Science Museum, Johnson & Johnson (Thailand) Limited, Vijja Company Limited, CentrovisioN Company Limited and Opendream Company Limited.
Ms. Arinchaya Trikunprapa, CEO & Co-Founder, Vijja Company Limited, said, “When I was young, before I become interested in studying and developing STEM skills, I had never thought I would pursue a career in this field before. In the past, it was perceived as a male-dominated space since some of the career paths, such as engineering, require manual labor and I personally did not really enjoy math. With society moving toward the digital future, the scope of STEM careers has expanded to cover technology that facilitates active roles for women, while even mathematical calculations are now simpler to handle. In addition, there are several positive factors ensuring women’s success in STEM, including support from employers and the distinctive attributes we have – such as determination, patience, calm and attention to detail. I would also like to advise Thai youth to recognize the critical importance of technology. Those who understand the language of technology, such as coding, will see more opportunities to succeed in a world where code has become the third language in an AI-driven world.”