MANILA – Microsoft Philippines, in a joint partnership with Asian Development Bank (ADB), launched the first-ever DigiGirlz 2016 Philippines,” one of Microsoft’s flagship programs that encourages and provides opportunities for young girls to take up STEM-related course (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math), to help them prepare for the challenges of the global economy and future workplace.

The program ran alongside ADB’s 4th Asian Youth Forum, the annual celebration of the United Nations’ International Youth Day. This year’s theme—Youth for Global Goals—focused on enabling youth to contribute to the new 2030 agenda, among which are promoting gender equality and quality education.

Held at the Asian Development Bank headquarters in Mandaluyong City, the event was participated in by 215 female high school students and 15 teachers from Saint Pedro Poveda College, St. Paul College Pasig, and Immaculate Conception Academy (ICA).

A series of interactive activities were lined up such as interaction with career executives who shared their life experiences, meet and talk with female leaders and role models in the technology sector, and hands-on computer and technology workshops help participants learn about careers in business and technology.

Students from ICA experiencing technology in gaming at the Microsoft gaming zone

In his opening remark, Sheel Majumdar, HR Director at Microsoft, highlighted the importance of having the right mindset, openness to ideas, and taking risks when deciding for a career path.

Shanny Campbell, ADB’s Senior Social Development Specialist, provided participants how digitization is changing the workplace and providing better quality jobs for young women with STEM backgrounds. When a student asked which field to choose best, Shanny answered, “Pick the one that excites you the most.”

The event also featured Hour of Code, a global Microsoft initiative that introduces the basics of computer science, through which the participating students at the event were given the opportunity to do hands-on coding.

Meanwhile, the afternoon session featured a panel discussion on “Career Path” to guide the young participants towards in-depth appreciation and a better understanding of a possible career in technology from the experiences of successful women executives in the tech industry.

Arlene Amarante, Director for Business Strategy at Microsoft and one of the country’s key digital movers, highlighted the significance of education and technology to empower women.

“Whether you are pursuing a career in Marketing or Business, you should always embrace the value of Technology as it is an essential tool in today’s modern era. Start working young and be pro-active as you can be,” stressed Amarante.

Yvette Watson, a Technology Specialist at Microsoft Philippines emphasized on the importance of planning ahead on what you want to do and stay focused. She encouraged young women to stay committed to their goals and value the significance of technology knowledge being a basic skills set in tomorrow’s modern place.

Participating schools in DigiGirlz saw the program as an opportunity for their students to have other career options, especially in IT. It also served as a venue for the young participants to have a better understanding of STEM education by providing them with career planning assistance, information about current trends about IT and business technology, as well as sharing with them best practices of key women leaders in the industry.

Ms. Shaine Baccay, subject team leader in Science from St. Paul Pasig, emphasized the importance of involving students in this kind of event. “DigiGirlz 2016 is a good avenue for them to be enlightened on the bright opportunities ahead, whether they consider pursuing career in Engineering or Technology, she said.

ICA Calculus teacher Ms. Kathrina Patag also added, “While most of our students in ICA are keenly considering taking medicine or business courses when they enter college; events like this will open up their course options to consider engineering or technology courses.

DigiGirlz 2016 Philippines” is on its first leg in South East Asia, and the next DigiGirlz roadshow will be held in Singapore.

In main photo are Career Path Panelists (L-R) Yvette Watson, Technology Specialist – Microsoft Philippines, Rachel De Villa, Founder of Cropital, and Arlene Amarante, Director for Business Strategy, Microsoft Philippines