Company NewsOctober 11, 2023

Dassault Systèmes celebrates International Day of the Girl Child 

Dassault Systèmes supports the mission behind International Day of the Girl Child with initiatives that empower girls.
Avatar Shoshana Kranish

For more than a decade, the United Nations and the world have celebrated October 11 as the International Day of the Girl Child. This year’s theme, “Digital Generation, Our Generation” centers on equitable access for women and girls to the internet to enable opportunities for the design and usage of technology. 

Projections estimate that jobs in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) will increase exponentially in the years to come. And given the lack of gender parity in these fields — despite efforts to assuage this trend — there’s plenty of work to be done to encourage girls to enter them. 

Dassault Systèmes is proud to present two initiatives in the company that focus on this nexus of girls and technology and explore how companies like ours can best bring girls and women into the fold.

Sophia Academy: Introducing girls to STEM 

For over 10 years, Dassault Systèmes has partnered with Sophia Academy, an independent all-girls school in Providence, Rhode Island, to provide students there with exposure to and information about careers in STEM. 

Each year, some 60 girls between grades 5 and 8 attend the school, which offers access to education for children living below the poverty line. Our partnership with them came about when the academy’s lack of funding prevented their students from being able to attend STEM events that Dassault Systèmes  participated in; recognizing the need for a special program made just for them, the collaboration began. 

Over the years, the company has provided the school with funding and technology access and has hosted an annual interactive learning day at various offices for the students. 

This year’s event, taking place on October 12 at the Johnston, RI office, will give Sophia Academy students a chance to tour the campus, learn about the company, explore the field of engineering and all the opportunities it holds and try interactive technologies like augmented reality and virtual reality. For the students, days like these afford them exposure to different career paths they might not have otherwise been introduced to. 

Speaking to this, Jennifer Potter, an Intellectual Process and Operations Strategy Director who has worked at Dassault  Systèmes for 28 years and has volunteered with Sophia Academy for nearly a decade, suggested the mentoring she’s participated in has had as profound an effect on her as it has had for her mentees. 

While the program is STEM-focused, not all the students who participate end up wanting to pursue careers in that field. One of Potter’s mentees, who’s now halfway through college, was one such student. When she expressed difficulty in defining a career path for herself, Potter invited her to join a business trip to New York, where she introduced the student to a member of the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion team at the company’s office there. 

Samantha Cummiskey, an R&D Quality Engineering Senior Manager in SIMULIA, who also volunteers with the Sophia Academy program, commended the commitment to introducing students to different types of opportunities they wouldn’t have otherwise encountered. Giving them the tools to explore, whether through days at the office or outreach programs that the company runs to bring recent grads to the school, helps accomplish this. 

“If we want to make a difference in the next generation of engineers, to make sure they’re gender and racially diverse, this is the exact kind of initiative that’s going to make that happen,” Cummiskey said. 

Girls Who Code: Empowering future engineers 

Girls Who Code is an international non-profit whose mission is to engage young girls in STEM from a young age in order to balance the gender gap in these fields for more equitable and inclusive future workplaces. 

Dassault Systèmes’ brand Medidata has partnered with Girls Who Code for over a year, and plans are in the works for a second annual International Day of the Girl Child-inspired collaboration event between the two. 

Last November, 10 Medidata employees volunteered over 30 hours of their time to virtual technical interview prep sessions with more than a dozen career-age women. Technical interviews are an important aspect of the hiring process in engineering fields, and having proper preparation for them can help applicants stand out. 

A significant number of the women who join Girls Who Code to learn programming and other technical skills come from underprivileged backgrounds, including people of color. While Dassault Systèmes already had programs in place with organizations representing young men from similar circumstances, there wasn’t one exclusively with a group that focused on young women in the New York area, where Medidata is headquartered. Thus, the partnership was born. 

Through efforts like these, we celebrate the inclusion of girls in the technology field from a young age not just on this international holiday, but year-round. Dassault Systèmes commends collaborations like those with Girls Who Code and Sophia Academy and the work promoted by the celebration of the International Day of the Girl Child. Empowering young women today will ensure that they become leaders in the future.

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