Empowering and Equipping Women with STEM Skills for a More Equitable Future

International Women’s Day celebrates women’s achievements and acknowledges the existence of inequalities that need to be addressed to build a better world. This year, as we recover from a global pandemic, it is imperative that women are not left behind.

The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the deep inequalities that exist across society. Data shows that women are more likely to be employed as “essential” workers in industries that have been severely impacted by the pandemic. Women disproportionately hold low-paying jobs and are more likely to be employed in industries with poor protections. They are 1.8 times more vulnerable to losing employment and are more likely to be burdened with unpaid care.

According to the National Association of Manufacturers, 4.6 million manufacturing jobs will likely be needed over the next decade, and 2.4 million are expected to go unfilled due to the skills gap. Women represent half of the U.S. college-educated workforce but only make up 28% of the science and engineering workforce. Additionally, women are less likely to enter STEM fields than men, leaving them at a disadvantage and one of the largest pools of untapped talent

female students in computer lab

The Caterpillar Foundation is committed to bridging the digital skills gap and investing in access to STEM education for women and girls globally. Through our partnerships, the Foundation has created innovative workforce development programs focused on skills-based training and hands-on learning opportunities to ensure women and girls are equipped with the necessary skills and training to compete in an increasingly STEM focused job market.

Our partnership with the United Nations Foundation’s Girl Up Initiative assists in creating and supporting fundamental STEM leadership and training programs for young girls worldwide. Our most recent investment helped develop a new curriculum for Girl Up’s STEM for Social Good Bootcamps, which are projected to reach hundreds of girls through in-person trainings and thousands of girls online.

In Brazil, we partnered with Associação Feminina Estudos Sociais  E Universitários Arios (AFESU) to create the STEM Maker’s Lab. Through this program, students enhance their skills in mechanical, electrical, and software engineering, as well as data science. In addition to learning hard skills, the STEM Maker’s Lab ensures students can foster creativity, encourage entrepreneurship and learn new soft and critical thinking skills that will serve as tools to reach their professional career goals.

At the Caterpillar Foundation, we believe access to quality STEM education has the ability to change the lives of women and girls across the globe. While we recognize closing the skills gap will take more than one industry or organization, we know together, we can ensure that next generation of girls enjoy access to an equitable future.