WOMEN’S DETERMINATION CONTRIBUTES TO REDUCING THE GENDER GAP IN THE STEM WORLD
We discuss the level of participation in the “Premio Tesi di Laurea Ingenio al Femminile” project with Claudia Pizzato, Corporate HR Director of Gruppo SCAI, asking the stimulus questions proposed by CESOP.
We have also collected a short contribution from Massimo Decorato, Technical Director of SCAI Puntoit, from two colleagues in the Business Solutions area, Valentina Bettini and Emanuela Gaj, both with STEM profiles, and from Amedeo Leone, SAP specialist and consultant at SCAI Fast.
What are the points of contact between your company and the spirit of the Ingenio al Femminile Thesis Award?
At SCAI Group, we have chosen to support this initiative, which reinforces the theme of inclusion of experiences and genders starting with Engineering, enriched by a human vision. As a network of companies that have grown up in the ICT world, we are convinced that a welcoming and inclusive working environment focusing, for example, on developing the presence and leadership of women improves the success of projects and fosters the emergence of creative ideas.
With the acceleration towards the digital transition, we know that the future of the world of work increasingly requires a STEM orientation in all areas. And our sector, which is characterised by multiple outlets of application and varied specialisations, still shows a skills shortage as well as a strong discrepancy between demand and supply. Not to mention the gender gap, which is still too wide. This is a stumbling block that needs to be overcome, not only as an expression of a women’s movement or the achievement of a numerical goal, but as a vision that must include the active participation of both men and womento foster a change of perspective.
First and foremost, the Italian economic fabric plays a decisive role, as it is still mainly characterised by companies where gender stereotypes and prejudices often prevail: secretaries are woman, software programmers are men.
Secondly, there is women’s perception of themselves. Often women do not feel as if they have an aptitude for STEM subjects. They do not consider themselves ‘up to it’ and feel that they do not have a coherent set of skills in these disciplines, so they may tend to avoid technical training courses. Here, an important role is played by the family, which influences the girl’s choice of courses at school.
Initiatives such as the ‘Ingenio al Femminile Thesis Award’ need to be supported and multiplied across all age groups in order to achieve a cultural impact on individuals, families and companies.
Goal 5 of the 2030 Agenda promotes the achievement of gender equality: it means eliminating all forms of discrimination against women and girls. Within this context, have you implemented or are you planning to implement gender equality and labour inclusion programmes? If so, how does your company promote female talent internally? How have you translated the value of sustainability into practical activities and initiatives to spread this culture in the company?
SCAI Group develops talents, with no gender, ethnic or religious bias. Equal treatment and professional development paths are part of our values, which we implement by promoting competence, professionalism and ambition, based not on figures, but on merit. The internal activities we carry out are not aimed at encouraging recruitment only in terms of percentages or pay. We want to raise the awareness of promising young women, stimulating our teams to disseminate a culture that reduces the gender gap and brings girls closer to scientific and technical subjects.
In this sense, we are creating an event to raise awareness, and to engage any of our employees and their families who may want to participate. We are aiming both to convey the variety of our professional sector and to pay due attention to the different territorial and cultural contexts in which we are involved. Communicating with families also means dealing in real terms with several age groups, which is a great challenge.
In addition, at internal training events, conventions, open talks or recruiting events, we aim to give space and a voice to male colleagues as well as female colleagues, valuing leadership and competence that are neither male nor female. We try to apply the same approach in relation to the training organisations, universities and associations we work with on recruiting, learning, networking and leadership building projects. On the subject ofinclusion, in particular, we have joined international and local projects such as Powercoders (providing apprenticeships and employment for foreign children together with UNHCR and other non-profit organisations) and Generation Italy, supporting the employment of young girls and boys with coding training courses.
What is the most important message you would like to share with an audience of young women graduates and undergraduates in technical subjects?
Let me pass you over to Valentina Bettini and Emanuela Gaj, two colleagues with an academic background at the Polytechnic of Turin who work in the holding company of the SCAI Group, SCAI Spa (where more than 50% of the employees are women), respectively in Management Control and Facilitated Finance. “We would like to draw the attention of female students to the importance of not allowing themselves to be overwhelmed by the reasons that wrongly justify the current gender gap in technical and scientific education and in the employment of people with STEM skills. Girls, cultivate your passion for engineering, mathematics and science in general, so that you can benefit from the stimulation, ambition and goals that they can provide. Although most of the role models recognised in the collective imagination are male, you can start by recognising your own ability. That’s easy to say, of course, but if you can reinforce your strengths by recognising where you need to improve, you will learn how to deal with the difficulties.
I would add to Emanuela and Valentina’s comment that the message is twofold. I know that the path you have embarked on may have challenged you with difficulties and injustices, but your tenacity will set the course for your future, because only through perseverance and setting a daily example will it be possible to achieve real gender equality and reach a time in history when it will be such a given concept that we won’t need to talk about it. Don’t try to achieve your goals by taking male role models as a guide. Instead, be your own “model”: value the female characteristics that distinguish you, because you don’t achieve equality by turning into something else, but by acting consistently with yourself.
Three words associated with the Ingenio al Femminile Thesis Award:
Determination, Difference and Equality.
Do you already have training programmes in place or do you intend to train management and stakeholders in the use of sustainability-related tools and procedures?
Sustainability is a very broad topic that has to be studied and pursued in relation to the business and in line with the needs of the system in which we live. In particular, one of the first steps organisations need to take to make a positive impact with their business is to start from the job satisfaction of their people. Training activities such as the SCAI Academy, recruiting events, workshops among colleagues, participation in initiatives and activities of association see us increasingly in contact with the territory, and attentive to sustainability issues where the digital factor can be an enabling one. We do not yet have a specific strategy on sustainability, certified by standards or with structured paths, but for years we have had projects that are evolving more and more in this direction, both internally and towards our customers, through technologies and digital solutions that aim to improve processes, accessibility to cultural places, working methods.
Gender equality, especially in education and employment, is not achievable exclusively, but with the practical and concrete participation of our male colleagues in the fields of work and study.
Let’s hear from two colleagues, Amedeo and Massimo.
32 years old, SAP consultant, SCAI Fast
Having graduates in Management Engineering at the University of Calabria, he lives and works in Milan.
In my own course of study, although there was a prevalence of male students, fortunately I saw very few incidents of discrimination. But the serious element is that they exist, it is a very frequent problem, even in working groups.
Currently, at SCAI Fast, in addition to my work as an SAP consultant for our customers, I am responsible for training trainees as a team leader. For me, it is an important opportunity to convey the values of the company on a practical level and not just with words, and to foster an inclusive atmosphere right from the start for the new people in the team. The change of perspective comes through daily micro-actions: attitudes in work meetings, participation in projects, choice of vocabulary, team building, etc.
Both at university and in my current position, my reference figures are always mainly women: a female professor at the University of Calabria who got me interested in SAP and a female team leader who is a source of inspiration for my career and training goals. In my opinion, girls and women offer added value because in problem solving they have a forward-looking, more future-oriented view, they see the causes of problems more openly and, at the same time, they have a broader perspective. In this context, the differences that exist should be valued. Gender aside, the fact that we have had positive role models, whether male or female, allows us in turn to behave in an open and inclusive way towards our colleagues.
Cyber Security Director SCAI Puntoit, graduate in Information Sciences, specialised in cybersecurity
As in all ICT sectors, cyber security is another field in which a great gender gap exists, and this is wider in Italy than in other European countries. In the company, we are putting a lot of emphasis on female-friendly recruitment, trying to develop an approach that fosters contact with and is open to talent, regardless of gender. To do this, creating synergy between the various company functions is very important, between those who deal with technology and business development and those who recruit staff. In my professional observatory, I often deal with international realities and I notice that, especially in the last few years, there are many studies and applications being developed that start from the concepts of Ethical Hacking or concern the global and transversal issues of the Digital Footprint. This opens up interesting scenarios in the ICT sector to talk not only about cyber security, but also about technology in general, with an inclusive and sustainable vision. In terms of smart working, cybersec, but digital tools in general, are enablers of a more sustainable way of life that impacts on: work-life balance, time management, transparency in processes and towards customers.
In an increasingly digital world, another key element is training, which paves the way for a real dialogue between the business world and the academic world, encouraging collaboration and continuous updating. Not only are vertical technical figures needed, but the conditions must also be created for technology to serve the community and express real needs. This also requires humanistic skills. It is good that women such as the thesis candidates in the Ingenio al Femminile call for proposals are exploring such topical issues with social, anthropological and economic backgrounds, which are added values for the engineering and technical framework that characterises our work.
Corporate HR Director