International Women’s Day: ‘A digital world with few women is a poorer universe’

International Women’s Day: ‘A digital world with few women is a poorer universe’

Franciele Nogueira Ferreira Rosa, Director of Design Engineering, Scala Data Centers and Camila Velloso, Chief Operating Officer, Vertiv Latin America, offer a LATAM perspective on the inclusion of women in STEM.

Franciele Nogueira Ferreira Rosa, Director of Design Engineering, Scala Data Centers

The inclusion of women in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) world is a journey in progress.

Achievements are happening, but there is still much to be done.

According to the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report 2023, Brazil is in 57th position in the global ranking of 146 countries in relation to gender equality.

This is an impressive advance compared to the 2022 ranking, when Brazil was in 94th position. It is a sign that the country is working to advance the various indicators that are behind this ranking.

In the global context, it is noteworthy that, in the international technology sector – where mastery of STEM disciplines is essential – the presence of women in leadership positions is limited.

The World Economic Forum study reveals that worldwide, the share of women in senior leadership positions such as vice presidents and directors in STEM is only 12.4%.

The photo at the top of the tech industry pyramid reinforces the trend that begins with STEM student recruitment: only 36.6% of students in these courses are women.

The UN estimates that by 2050, 75% of all professional positions will be related to STEM disciplines. With numbers like these, it is critical to pay special attention to women’s education and participation in this universe.

The statistics are disturbing. According to UNESCO, only 35% of STEM graduates are women.

Camila Velloso, Chief Operating Officer, Vertiv Latin America

In Brazil, data from the CNPq (National Council for Scientific and Technological Development, an agency of the Ministry of Science and Technology) from 2019 reveal that, nationwide, only 35% of scholarship holders of master’s degree courses in exact sciences are women.

In the areas of engineering and computing, this mark drops to 33.6% of scholarship holders.

In the humanities, on the other hand, the presence of women studying for a master’s degree is massive: 66%.

The same report reveals that funds for master’s projects in the humanities are up to 60% less than those made available for theses in STEM subjects.

This situation ends up reinforcing stereotypes, giving more opportunities to a single gender.

The situation is aggravated by the gender pay gap.

A 2023 study by the Federation of Industries of Santa Catarina (FIESC) shows that the presence of women in positions that require mastery of STEM disciplines is 28.46%.

This index was constructed from data from the Annual Report of Social Information (RAIS), a socioeconomic information report created from data submitted to the Federal Government by employers throughout Brazil.

In Santa Catarina, in particular, male professionals with a STEM degree earn an average of R$ 6,908.01 – women performing the same work reach the value of R$ 5,170.06.

The impact of this reality on the Brazilian economy is significant.

A study carried out by Brasscom – Association of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) and Digital Technologies Companies in 2021 indicates that, by 2025, 797 thousand jobs will be generated in the technology sector.

Everything indicates that this demand will not be met, as there is a lack of trained professionals in these areas in Brazil.

The forecast is for an annual shortfall of 106,000 talents with STEM expertise. The low presence of women in this context contributes to this situation.

A digital world with few women is a poorer universe.

According to the UN’s UN Gender Snapshot 2022 report, this figure has taken $1 trillion off the economies of low- and middle-income countries over the past 10 years. If nothing is done to fix this, losses could reach $1.5 trillion by 2025.

There are, however, practices that, in our view, can contribute to smoothing women’s access to STEM courses and professional positions in the Brazilian digital economy.

These points relate to realities faced not only by the two of us, but by all women, and which require transformation.

Examples of successful women in STEM

Interestingly, when women make choices from an educational curriculum or a career, they are often drawn to areas where they see successful women.

It’s a chicken-egg situation – if few women enter the STEM field, there will be few examples of successful women in this field.

Through encouragement, mentoring and support for women interested in this path, there will be more examples of successful women.

The presence of women in management positions in Brazilian technology companies serves as a source of hope for women to consider STEM when defining their careers. It is an inspiration that is not at all theoretical and includes a hard day that combines work and continuous training.

These examples of successful women in STEM must reach beyond the company universe and reach schools, communities and other environments where there are girls and women who need to believe that change is possible.

It is also worth noting that the positive impact of family support cannot be ignored.

For one of the authors, coming from a family of engineers provided her with a supportive environment in which her entry into the STEM world was not only encouraged, but nurtured.

Having family members who understand the challenges and opportunities of the industry provides valuable guidance and mentorship. This encourages women to excel in a STEM career.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Initiatives

It’s critical for tech companies to prioritize diversity. Diversity and Inclusion Programs can encourage women – as well as other groups – in their companies and areas.

In fact, the goal is to bring the DEI flag to disadvantaged communities in general. This includes developing programs and campaigns targeting girls and women of all races, from elementary school to university.

It is about presenting the Brazilian digital economy as a space that needs women and wants to receive women professionals. It is a sowing of hope that includes several target audiences, presenting a pragmatic vision, based on examples and educational actions, of a new digital Brazil.

We are both part of this journey and are involved in DEI programs.


Together with the DEI team, HR can help change the world. To this end, it is necessary to adopt an active stance of reaching out to students and young professionals with the potential to participate in recruitment programs for positions that require mastery of STEM disciplines.

The selection to fill a vacancy should be focused on the candidate’s competence. But recruitment and mentoring campaigns help these young women understand the opportunities in tech organizations and the education needed to gain these professional positions.

The recruitment process has to be broad, bringing more people to know the company and presenting the benefits of working there. This includes offering employee support groups, community spaces, and mentorship for people new to STEM positions.

We believe this is one of the critical points in expanding the presence of women in STEM professional positions.

The role of leaders

In companies, the manager – male or female – is critical to supporting women who work with STEM disciplines.

The delivery of feedback from the leader to the female employee is a moment focused on results that illuminates the professional’s journey and, at the end of the day, can contribute to the construction of solid self-esteem.

Another noteworthy point is that, in the past, it was common for young women professionals or other non-typical professionals to adopt a “code change” – changing the way they present themselves in the workplace to facilitate their inclusion in a mainly male and homogeneous team.

This can include changing the way you dress, hiding your real interests and hobbies, altering your ‘work personality’ to make it easier for you to adapt.

In theory, those days are in the past. Organizations are including diversity in their mission and values, supporting a culture where women and other non-typical professionals will be treated in the same way as a man without, however, having to deny their authentic selves.

The leader plays a crucial role in building a safe and supportive work environment for women, providing equity in opportunities and pay. Leaders need to demand respectful words and behaviors from all employees, and initiate discussions and training on acceptable behaviors, making clear the consequences of unacceptable acts.

The leader can, in the midst of the work routine, collaborate so that women are part of a culture of respect and recognition.

It is worth noting that one of the authors, as soon as she was invited to occupy her current position, observed that the company’s website featured women in leadership positions.

This led her to believe that this was an organization that offered equal opportunities for men and women.

This insight underscores the importance of leadership that supports the generation of an inclusive environment for women in STEM.


Education is much more than going to school and the education given to Brazilian girls from all social classes continues to have serious flaws.

In a toy store, for example, there is a clear division between toys for girls, a mostly pink sector focused on dolls and the area for boys, full of science games and building toys.

In schools, it is common to find robotics groups that, despite being open to all students, are made up only of boys.

This presents children with a segmented world that doesn’t make it easy for girls to build self-esteem.

In relation to, for example, university engineering courses, the limited presence of female students often means that they close in on themselves, feeling without a place.

One result of this situation may be dropping out of a STEM college course.

Family and school need to change to break stereotypes.

The goal is to create fertile ground for girls, adolescents and young women to believe that there are no gender limitations for those who make STEM education and careers a natural choice.

The life of a working woman is complex – there are many roles living in parallel.

During the pandemic, we both had the opportunity to mix work and home life intensively.

Our children saw us working and working with pleasure and determination.

As a society, we need to continue to value multifaceted women who nurture their families and work to provide for their families.

This is a lesson for new generations who can recognize that women are equally capable of succeeding in STEM education and STEM careers.

It is critical that we encourage and support girls and women to realize their potential, including an interest in STEM at all educational levels and in all career opportunities.

We can work together to make this journey smooth. In the end, everyone wins.

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