GE recently welcomed 30 high school girls to its office in Lagos, Nigeria, for the fourth annual Girls in Technology Day, on 19 May. This event is designed to show women and girls the exciting career opportunities offered by the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields.

A recent STEM report predicted that by 2020, 80% of all future jobs will require a STEM education. Currently, only 10% of young women globally show an interest in STEM fields, and this number is even lower in Africa. While cultural norms, peer perceptions and traditional duties at home may push some young girls away from pursuing STEM careers, GE seeks to show girls that these fields are fun and welcoming for them.

The GE Girls in Technology event is a joint effort organised by the GE Women’s Network and the Women’s Technology Empowerment Centre (W.TEC), a non-governmental organisation. This year’s event was also supported by GE’s Africa Affinity Forum (AAF). Participating girls were aged between 13 and 17 and were from public schools in and around Lagos.

The event, themed “She can CODE,” was designed to give girls training in coding and computer programming. They were educated on various topics, such as animation programming with Alice, app development using AppInventor2, and produced a digital video called “Girls’ Day in GE and What GE Does.”

Participants also learned more about GE’s business units and the roles that technology and IT play in careers at the organisation. They also met senior GE leaders who shared their personal stories and career highlights for personal insight into STEM career paths.

A visiting VP and Global Chief Information Officer, Jim Fowler, attended the event and served as a judge for the coding competition. “It was thrilling to spend the afternoon in Lagos judging the coding competition between these brilliant young women,” said Jim. “I was so impressed by their talent, enthusiasm and spirit.”

The girls left the day’s events feeling energised and empowered, and the event  was a rousing success. GE will continue this annual engagement, and to  continue encouraging girls and sparking curiosity in STEM fields.