Back to School: STEM subjects and inclusiveness

Back to School: STEM training to tackle gender inequality and build a sustainable future


Gender inequality is still a widespread problem in STEM disciplines (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics), subjects that are increasingly fundamental for the most in-demand professions in the areas of energy transition, digitalization and environmental sustainability, areas that will define the development of our society in the coming years.

In fact, worldwide women make up only 35% of students enrolled in these faculties, a gap that, according to the World Bank 2020, is on track to becoming even wider in the engineering fields, with only 7% of female students choosing engineering, compared to 22% of male students. As a consequence, only 12% of members of national scientific academies are women, in spite of the fact that women make up 55% of those studying for Master’s degrees or doctorates (UN Women, 2021).

This disparity needs to be remedied with concrete tools, intervening beginning in schools and academies by encouraging female students to follow their passion, promoting scientific training and careers, and raising awareness in the classroom about correlated job opportunities. Today, 90% of professions require IT skills and in Europe digitalization has created around 2 million new jobs and it is estimated that by 2030 the creation of another 1.75 million jobs will be driven by these skills.

With this in mind, our Group created Back to School: an inclusive STEM training project with the goal of fostering a proactive connection with schools and encouraging an increasing number of students to embrace scientific disciplines and careers. Our female colleagues who hold STEM degrees play a key role in this project. They visit high schools as role models, countering gender stereotypes and meeting with students to raise the awareness among young people, particularly girls, about the value of technical and scientific training.

Back to school aims to offer female students concrete opportunities to get familiarized with the working world, widen their network and improve their career opportunities. In Italy, girls nearing high school graduation will be able to participate in a challenge that will award a financial contribution to cover the tuition fees for a three-year STEM degree. Furthermore, female students in their third and fourth year of high school will have the possibility to access career counseling, a series of sessions regarding specific themes aimed at making them more aware about the academic and professional choices available to them. They will also have access to “shadowing,” a work experience alongside a professional in order to begin to understand the mechanisms and language of the working world as well as the opportunities offered by STEM fields of study. 

In 2022, this initiative involved 12 countries and more than 3,800 students, of which almost 80% were girls. The initiative will be offered again in 2023, in fact the new edition of Back to School was presented on March 29 of this year through an in-house webinar and involved almost 900 of our female colleagues with STEM degrees, who made themselves available to meet with students to provide them with concrete testimonials regarding the possibilities offered by scientific disciplines.

Additionally, a final challenge has been instituted for girls in their 5th year who have participated in the Back to School activities. The challenge is for the creation of a video through which the girls will seek to raise awareness and educate other young people on emerging global issues such as environmental protection, building a more inclusive society, and reducing school dropout rates. The winners of the challenge will receive a contribution to cover tuition fees for enrollment in three-year programs in a STEM subject starting in the 2023-2024 academic year.

Back to School combats gender inequality and intends to provide concrete tools and practical solutions to all young who plan to pursue careers in science. Our Group is convinced that the energy transition requires a new generation of professionals, whose skills will be crucial to the progress and sustainable growth of society as a whole.