Gender Equality in Technology

Alice Marshall and Serge Lachapelle on gender equality in technology. #GETBlog is sponsored by Google.

De tar Tekniksprånget till ett jämställt yrkesliv

2016-06-23 14:18 Alice Marshall  

#GETBlog tittar närmare på hur initiativet Tekniksprånget säkrar framtidens talanger.

Hacking the pipeline, TechLeap style!

This week on #GETBlog, we’re looking deep into Sweden’s strategic tools for changing the tech pipeline, and making it more gender-equal. One of the Swedish government’s strategic initiatives in this area is called Tekniksprånget (or “TechLeap” in English).

TechLeap is an internship program where Sweden's employers, together with the Swedish government, have made investments to secure the country's future talent by attracting more young people to engineering.

Through a four-month long paid internship, young people across the country get the chance to test the engineering profession in practice. The aim of TechLeap is to inspire young people to study and complete a higher technical education by giving them a clearer vision of what awaits after graduation. 8 out of 10 of those who got internships are currently studying or plan on studying a higher technical program. 9 out of 10 of past interns indicate that Tekniksprånget will lead to fewer dropouts from engineering studies.

The program was first piloted in Fall of 2012, and IVA (the Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering Sciences) has driven it since 2013. So far, 2300 young people completed the program, 50% of whom identify as women. 50% of the former interns who have gone on to higher technical education are also women. This program is also great for the companies involved.  Interns are a great way for more junior staff to test and learn how it is to be a leader.

If you’re interested in applying to be an intern or learning more about the program, contact Alexandra Ridderstad, Operations Manager Tekniksprånget: alexandra.ridderstad@iva.se 070-417 45 45. You can also find more information on their webpage.

To learn more about this great program, #GETBlog interviewed one of the companies that’s hosted many interns, Ericsson, who’s been participating in Tekniksprånget since 2012. We also wanted to see what this program is like for the interns, so we’re also interviewing one of the interns, Josefin Osbjer.

Katarina Malm at Ericsson tells us more about how they’ve been working with Tekniksprånget and some of the benefits of the program:

How many interns have you worked with over the years from Tekniksprånget?

-          Around 120 interns total.

How many interns do you have this year, and what's the gender balance?

-          This spring we had 13 interns, 5 women and 8 men. For the fall, we’re aiming for a 50/50 gender balance.

How many applications do you usually get?

-          We’ve gotten over 500 applications in the ongoing recruitment for the interns that will start in August but in earlier years, we’ve had around 200-400 applicants.

What types of results have you seen from the internships?

-          We’ve gotten good results from the internships. For example, we have a manager who’s had different interns for several years and they’ve all worked on developing a product that now will be used by customers and soon start to bring in money.

What types of value/benefits has the program created for Ericsson?

-         To start with, the interns do a great job, which creates value, as in the example above. They also bring new perspectives and good energy. Another great benefit is that we get to come in contact with these young students and we get a chance to show them what it’s like to work in the tech industry and improve the interest among young adults to study engineering. Especially women, we would love to see more female university graduates from engineering in the next couple of years because right now there are not enough for us to fill our gap to reach our long-term diversity goal.

How does Tekniksprånget relate to, and tie in with, Ericsson's other gender equality work?

-          It ties in perfectly! We believe diverse teams are the best teams – they are high-performing, innovative, with a variety of perspectives, experiences and references becoming the most creative and thus the most successful. Because of that, we have an aim to reach 30% women in our workforce by 2020 and 50/50 long-term. To be able to reach these goals, we need more girls to study engineering and that’s why we engage in initiatives like Tekniksprånget.

Josefin Osbjer tells us what she’s thought of the internship, and what she learned.

Can you tell us a little background about you?

-          My name is Josefin Osbjer and I´m twenty years old. I graduated from high school in Uppsala two years ago. I´m starting college at KTH this fall and after this internship I’m sure I want to study engineering. After my gap year in the US, I decided to apply to Tekniksprånget to find out if engineering is something I really want to study and work with in the future. I applied to Ericsson because it´s a huge tech company which has been in the business for over 140 years and because I thought it would be an interesting employer with a lot of great opportunities.

You're almost done with your internship. What did you think of it?

-          Overall it has been so much fun! I´ve learned a bunch of new things and now I have a clearer view of what an engineering job at a tech company is like. I have a greater understanding that engineers can work in totally different areas and have different ways of working as well.

What was most beneficial about it?

-          I got to work with all kind of coworkers, I’ve been to different units at the company, volunteered at different fun events, met super interesting people within the company and so on.

What do you think of working in the tech industry so far?

-          I think it´s very interesting in general and amazing to meet so many intelligent people in this industry every day.

What are your career aspirations?

-          I don’t have a clear view right now of what kind of area I would like to work with or what kind of position I wish for in the future, but I´m sure that I want to have a challenging work every day. I hope I can be someone who inspires others, and I’ll hopefully end up at a place where I learn new things every single day.

Do you aspire to a career in tech?

-          I definitely aspire to a career in tech, because I´m interested in development in general and I’m really excited to see all the upcoming tech in the future.

Anything else you want to tell us about the program?

-          I had no clue that I would experience this much during my internship. I thought that I would be working at my desk most of the time, but I´ve got to experience so much more. It´s so fascinating that all employees at Ericsson really welcome all younger interns, are interested to meet us and inspire us with their stories. We have had the opportunity to meet super interesting people during these months, for instance plenty of intelligent engineers, the head of our biggest development unit, the head of our research unit and the CEO.

 

I have attended and helped out at some events as well, for example the IGEday (Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day)  and Kista Mobility Week, which have been really fun to attend. This internship has absolutely included more variety and opportunities than I ever could have imagined.

 

Alice Marshall

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