In 2022 our Now+Next initiative reached over 1,000 young women to help inspire them around careers in technology.
To help tackle the gender gap in the technology industry, in 2022 Candyspace collaborated with Mixpanel, Airship and mParticle to launch Now+Next, a new association that aims to inspire young women through understanding possibilities, providing connections and gaining experience in data, design and technology.
As students who experience four or more proactive employer encounters are three times more likely to pursue a career in STEM, it is crucial girls and young women have access to female technology leaders early on in their education.
By providing girls and young women with the opportunity to meet with female technology leaders, Now+Next helps to tackle some of the gender norms, bias and stereotypes that are reinforced in girls from a young age. These opportunities will help inspire girls and young women during early and key life-stage decision-making periods, empowering them to make informed decisions about their future.
We’re proud to work alongside Founder4Schools, an award-winning charity that connects young people and their educators with a network of inspirational volunteer role models. The Founders4Schools online platform allows schools to connect with Now+Next and volunteering employees from member companies, who will help connect and support schools.
Our 2022 achievements
- On International Women in Mathematics Day on 17 May, Now+Next held its first major event. Over 80 young women from three secondary schools in London attended to hear insights, inspiration and advice from female leaders working within technology business, including Candyspace’s El Reeve
- Candyspace launched its work experience programme, in which secondary school girls were able to design and build their own app to give them hands-on experience of digital roles
- Through our partnership with Founders4Schools, volunteers from Candyspace and our Now+Next partners connected with over 1,000 secondary school girls to inspire around the possibilities and pathways into careers in technology, data and design
El Reeve, senior UX designer at Candyspace and our Now+Next lead says: “The most important aspect of this initiative is the two-pillared approach: providing inspiration and offering meaningful work experience in fast-growing technology fields. Through this initiative, young women will be able to immerse themselves in what we do at Candyspace, learn more about UX and visual design, and even write code and work on design and build projects themselves. This will give them the tangible experience that they can take into their future, and hopefully inspire them to pursue a career in STEM and creative fields.”
The gender gap
According to the STEM Women association, women make only 24% of the workforce in STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths). In the UK only 19% of graduates in Computer Science are women. The root of the problem goes further back: when girls select the subjects they are going to pursue as early as 12 years old they are slowly narrowing the scope of careers open to them.
According to the AAUW there are four perpetuating factors contributing to this:
- Gender stereotypes: STEM fields are often viewed as “masculine” and teachers and parents often underestimate girls’ maths abilities starting as early as pre-school.
- Male-dominated cultures: Because fewer women study and work in STEM, these fields tend to perpetuate inflexible, exclusionary, male-dominated cultures that are not supportive of or attractive to women and minorities.
- Fewer role models: Girls have fewer role models to inspire their interest in these fields, seeing limited examples of female scientists and engineers in books, media and popular culture. There are even fewer black women role models in maths and science.
- Maths anxiety: Teachers, who are predominantly women, often have maths anxiety they pass onto girls, and they often grade girls harder for the same work, and assume girls need to work harder to achieve the same level as boys.
Candyspace, in collaboration with our partners in Now+Next, are committed to trying to address this imbalance. We want to drive affirmative action and create an environment which better supports and encourages young women interested in pursuing a career in technology.
Laurena Robinson, director of partnerships at Founders4Schools, says: “Our mission is to prepare students for the rapidly changing world of work, and give all young people an equal start in life. Our online platform is at the core of this, providing a simple and free way for educators to connect their students with our diverse community of volunteer role models.
“Career inspiration and connecting with employers is particularly crucial for encouraging more girls and young women to pursue careers in technology, which is why we’re delighted to be working with Now+Next in its goal to break down stereotypes from a young age and help girls across the UK to understand the possibilities available to them.”
Natalie Kouzeleas, director, EMEA & LATAM at Mixpanel, explains: “Even today, many girls and young women aren’t fully aware of the growth opportunities that are available to them. This is mostly down to STEM fields still often being viewed as ‘masculine’, or girls having fewer role models to inspire an interest in technology, which results in the needle of gender equality in tech not moving as fast as it needs to. That’s why we’ve developed Now+Next with our partners – ensuring that change happens within our industry is far easier to do collectively than trying to go it alone.
“We also have ambitious and long-term objectives, which is why we also recognise that the more organisations who are interested in contributing can only increase the value and impact of this initiative. Therefore, we are actively welcoming participation from other industry partners and organisations looking to help bridge the gender equality divide in STEM industries.”