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IBM partners with HT Code-a-thon to bridge the STEM gender gap

By HT School Web Desk,

Gender gaps in STEM education and careers are issues deeply rooted in the Indian system.

HT Code-a-thon gives students an opportunity to learn to code remotely and teaches them basic programming skills.

The pandemic has highlighted our dependence on technology in our daily lives. As the world becomes ever more digitized, coding is set to become the universal language of the future. While India ranks high in the number of coders in the country, igniting the passion for science and technology at an early age is an area where we are still lagging. This gap widens even further when you bring gender into the picture.   

Gender gaps in STEM education and careers are issues deeply rooted in the Indian system and culture. While women are under-represented in STEM jobs globally, in India, the numbers are even more dismal, with only 14% of STEM jobs being held by women. Moreover, access to the knowledge of coding is skewed, with its inclusion in the curriculum being limited to only a few private schools or as outside classroom learning.   

To make coding more attractive and mainstream, Hindustan Times organizes an annual nationwide Coding Olympiad for children between Grades 4 to 9. The initiative aims to expand logical thinking, analytical reasoning, and problem-solving skills through coding amongst young students. This year, IBM – as an extension of its flagship CSR programme STEM for Girls - collaborates with Hindustan Times to extend the HT Code-a-thon to schools operating under the NVS or the Navodaya Vidyalaya Samiti.  

In 2020, IBM collaborated with the Department of Science and Technology (DST) to create a level playing field for meritorious girls to pursue STEM. Called Vigyan Jyoti, the programme was launched to bridge the underrepresentation of girls in STEM education and careers and enhance institutional capacities in the fields of STEM.  

With the support of IBM’s implementation partner, the American India Foundation (AIF), a holistic exposure to STEM is provided to students through interesting educational content and live science camps imparting hands-on experience and 21st-century skills. AIF also works to enhance the technical expertise of teachers and provides them with the tools to spark the curiosity and interest of children in the fields of science and technology.  

HT Code-a-thon gives students an opportunity to learn to code remotely and teaches them basic programming skills, with the freedom to build projects of their choice. With support from IBM, AIF and the DST, the 2021 edition of the HT Code-a-thon now spreads beyond cities to overcome class and gender barriers.   

Manoj Balachandran, Head CSR, IBM India and South Asia, says, “The collaboration of IBM with HT Code-a-thon has been a great success in helping kids tap their creative spurt through technology. We are happy to extend this initiative by making HT Code-a-thon accessible to meritorious girls from grades 9 to 12 as part of the Vigyan Jyoti programme launched by the Department of Science and Technology. These will strengthen our STEM for Girls programme which aims to inspiring girls of the next generation of girls to embrace STEM learning.”