As the UN says, “women and girls represent half of the world’s population and, therefore, also half of its potential.” We believe it’s vital to be part of the movement that recognises this and seeks to help everyone reach their potential by promoting gender equality – particularly in education. That’s why we’re so excited to align with the goals of the International Day of Women and Girls in Science with our February Hackathon projects.

Today, 11 February, is the 2020 International Day of Women and Girls in Science. The initiative was born out of the High-Level World Women’s Health and Development Forum in 2015. Held at UN headquarters in New York, it was organised by the Royal Academy of Science International Trust and the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs.

It’s part of a “roadmap for women’s health and development”. It comprises an “ambitious global outcome agenda” and has gained sponsorship from more than 65 countries and the approval of all the UN’s member states.

Currently, fewer than 30% of researchers worldwide are women.

Currently, fewer than 30% of researchers worldwide are women. The same proportion of female students choose STEM-related subjects in higher education. Across the board, female representation in ICT, natural science, mathematics and statistics, engineering, manufacturing and construction is lower than that of males.

Furthermore – unfortunately – art is imitating life, where only 12% of characters in film with STEM-related jobs are female. While being able to ‘see it to be it’ isn’t accepted as the main cause of or cure for inequality, it’s in no way a desirable reflection on society or its aspirations.

And all this is despite the fact that these imbalances have long been recognised. UN Secretary-General António Guterres has called for us all to “rise to the challenges of the 21st century, to harness our full potential”. The International Day of Women and Girls in Science is the UN’s pledge to do this.

This is a timely initiative across February to be inspired by the goals of the International Day of Women and Girls in Science.

Recently, here at the Institute of Imagination we’ve partnered with the British Council to train educators and support the creative use of innovative British technology in classrooms across the world. This is a timely initiative across February to be inspired by the goals of the International Day of Women and Girls in Science.

This month we’re in Malawi, Tanzania, India and Spain running creative digital skills workshops with educators and students, giving teams the tools to run their own ‘Hackathons’. 

We’re proud to be sending a group of workshops leaders, two thirds of whom are women, to lead these workshops across the globe. We’re also working specifically with groups girls in Delhi and Tanzania.

To inspire creative confidence in educators and next generation of digital thinkers, we’re using BBC micro:bit. It’s a pocket-sized programmable computer designed to teach the basics of computer coding. A Hackathon takes an open-ended approach to a project. It’s about limitless creative capacity. There’s no set agenda or desired outcome and the focus is on collaboration, ideas and responding to real-world challenges that affect participants. Crucially, experimentation is encouraged, so the outcome is about improved digital skills and literacy along with skills in problem-solving, teamwork and creativity.

inspire confidence in educators and the next generation of digital thinkers

with more almost a billion jobs set to be transformed by technology over the next ten years, the need for a combination of digital skills and ‘soft skills’ like creativity, empathy, collaboration and problem-solving is a trend we can’t ignore, and one that must come from skilling up everyone regardless of gender.

Support the next generation of digital creators, rather than consumers, of technology.

Ciarán Devane, CEO of British Council



It’s our responsibility to put the keys to the future in the hands of young people everywhere. Through representative leadership in sciences, nurturing the skills of girls and boys through relevant and creative training and lifting up girls where they may have been let down or allowed to fall behind due to lack of opportunity and an unacceptable status quo, we aim to do our part to redress imbalances and break down stereotypes. Happy International Day of Women and Girls in Science!

Find out more about the iOi’s Hackathons and other global initiatives.

Posted by:Sophie Sabin

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