14 December 2022
Amaia Zarranz from Guipuzcoa, a student of the double degree in Business Administration and Management and Computer Engineering, and Leire Arribas from Burgos, a graduate in Industrial Design Engineering, have been awarded a WONNOW prize for the best female students of STEM degrees -Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics- from Spanish universities. The young women have been recognised along with 10 other brilliant women for their academic record and their professional, personal and social trajectory.
The winners will have access to a paid scholarship to work for six months in the CaixaBank Group and participate in the development of innovation projects linked to financial services. They will also benefit from the mentoring programme provided by Microsoft.
Gonzalo Gortázar, CEO of CaixaBank, and Alberto Granados, President of Microsoft in Spain, were in charge of presenting these awards, which recognise, for the fifth consecutive year, female excellence in technical university degrees, promote diversity and contribute to reducing the gender gap in these sectors, with enormous employment opportunities and where the presence of women is scarce.
These opportunities should be gender-neutral, although as the UNESCO report 'Decoding the Keys: Women's and Girls' STEM Education' shows, only 35% of students enrolled in STEM-related degrees in higher education are women and only 3% of female students in higher education pursue ICT studies.
According to the U-Multirank Gender Monitor, the international ranking of universities promoted by the European Commission, which analyses more than 1,000 institutions in 80 countries, including Spain, there is a gender imbalance as academic careers progress. By STEM-related fields of knowledge, in Spain, Biology (62%), Chemistry (55%) and Architecture (50%) have the highest presence of women in the classroom, while Computer Engineering (14%), Mechanical Engineering (17%) and Electrical Engineering (19%) have the lowest female enrolment.
There is also a gender gap in the labour market. According to the report 'Women and Innovation 2022', prepared by the Ministry of Science and Innovation in collaboration with the Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology (FECYT), in 2020 only 17% of Spanish companies and only one in three companies in the ICT sector had women specialists in advanced technologies.
A consolidated and benchmark event
CaixaBank and Microsoft are organising the WONNOW Awards with the aim of encouraging and inspiring other young women to study technical degrees and get the right training to gain access to highly sought-after jobs.
This year's winners were selected from among the 975 female students from 57 universities from all over Spain who applied this year, which represents a 34.8% increase in participation compared to the previous edition. These awards have become a consolidated and benchmark event in the university sphere and over the five editions held to date, more than 2,700 female students have taken part.
The range of the marks of the finalists in the five editions of the award is between 9.51 and 9.91, with the difference between the lowest and highest marks being only 0.4 tenths and with an average mark of 9.7.
During the awards ceremony, the CEO of CaixaBank highlighted the work and effort of all the participants. In his words, "all the participants and winners are a reference to encourage other students to break stereotypes and get them interested in science and technology from a young age. It is a priority to promote female talent in all sectors and especially in those areas where the presence and referent of women is lower".
For his part, the president of Microsoft in Spain pointed out that "there is a high demand for digital talent in Spain, however, 8 out of 10 companies in all sectors find it difficult to recruit professionals trained in technology and STEM skills to fill the positions they need. Companies are already all digital and this digitalisation should not be gender neutral. With the WONNOW awards, together with CaixaBank, we want to reward the academic excellence of university girls in STEM careers and encourage others to see this as an extraordinary opportunity. We need to work on training and boosting female technical and digital talent if we want to grow our economy in a diverse and inclusive way.