March 31, 2023
In the month of March and throughout the year, the Caterpillar Foundation is leaning in on our commitment to supporting women and girls around the globe. One of our focus areas is 21st century workforce readiness and STEM education to enable skill-building, academic programs and career pathways. The reality is that STEM touches almost every facet of life, from infrastructure, medical care, climate, and so much more. Still, women are unrepresented in the field.
This phenomenon is further exacerbated in some of the fastest-growing and highest-paid jobs of the future. Closing this gap requires girls and young women to engage in STEM subjects as soon as possible. One such innovative partnership is with Junior Achievement (JA) Mexico in collaboration with JA Americas and the Inter-American Development Bank, on digital skills for women. For more than 100 years, JA has delivered educational opportunities regarding work readiness, sustainability, STEM and more, helping more than 12 million adolescents through poverty and unemployment. Over the years, we have been fortunate to have collaborated with JA partners across 15 countries.
We are particularly excited about our work together on the regional initiative “She is Digital,” where economically vulnerable women in Central America can access free digital skills and job training to boost their employability. Participants ages 17 to 30 will increase their engagement in the digital economy and have the option to work toward web development and cybersecurity certifications from some of the world’s top technology companies, including Amazon Web Services, Cisco and IBM. The program seeks to assist 7,500 women from Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and the Dominican Republic.
We are pleased that our support is helping to scale the program to Mexico, where the demand for digitally skilled workers has grown much faster than supply (according to 2020 research by LinkedIn, supported by APEC). In addition to digital skills training, the women participating in the program will receive guidance through job search assistance and interview skills as they transition to employment. The program’s continued efficacy will enable it to be replicated in other regions across the globe to uplift more young women.
“We are proud to partner with ‘She is Digital’ in closing the gender gap in STEM and reducing barriers for underrepresented groups,” said Asha Varghese, president of the Caterpillar Foundation. "Upskilling for the future, particularly in STEM, is so important for participants' financial security and freedom as well as the field at large. As an engineer, I understand firsthand how important it is for these industries and jobs to accurately reflect the communities they serve to ensure we are moving toward a bright and inclusive future for all.”
Beyond Women's History Month, we know more work must be done to ensure the STEM workforce accurately represents the demographics of the local populations they serve. The Caterpillar Foundation and our JA partners are committed to this work and look forward to continuing to provide supportive education opportunities for women and girls worldwide.