Young Conference Center
Rome, October 4, 2018
(As prepared for delivery)
Good morning, ladies on the panel and ladies in the audience. I see I am in the minority today and rightly so as we introduce the fifth annual Coding Girls project.
First of all, I would like to thank Mirta Michilli and her staff from the Fondazione Mondo Digitale. Together with Microsoft, the Fondazione has been our great partner in this project since Coding Girls was launched in 2014 with a pilot project in Rome.
I want to give a special thank you to Ms. Cominelli from Microsoft and also to Ms. Francisci from the American Chamber of Commerce in Italy, who is attending the Coding Girls press conference for the first time. I also want to acknowledge all of the representatives from the business community joining us this year. Your presence is a meaningful step forward for this project.
We also have to thank the teachers and schools for embracing this exciting and innovative project. It is a tribute to their commitment and recognition of the importance of innovation in training the next generation of young professionals. At the same time, they are tackling persistent stereotypes that women are less passionate or uninterested in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics or STEM, as we call it.
And last but not least, I want to commend all of the participants for choosing to devote your time and attention to coding, for choosing to explore new avenues and face new challenges, like taking the course in English from an American trainer. This is a remarkable effort on your part that will also help you improve your language skills. I encourage you to make the most of this experience.
This project has been steadily growing since its inception in 2014 launching in eight schools in Rome. This year the project includes seven cities: Milan, Turin, Trieste, Naples, Salerno, Catania, and Rome. From the project’s growth from 100 girls in the beginning to 6,000 now, it’s clear that both the organizers and participants are succeeding with Coding Girls. We expect these numbers to continue to increase.
I would like to return to something I mentioned before: Coding Girls is taking a big step forward this year, by involving businesses in the project.
Innovation is a key factor for economic growth and the technology sector is increasingly demanding specialized skills.
Girls and women have an opportunity now to get the appropriate training and enter a highly skilled and well paid job market. Women need to take a central role in this economic growth, and that’s the goal of Coding Girls: to prepare a new generation to fill the technology needs of businesses.
The U.S. Mission is proud to be at the forefront of this issue with its commitment to STEM education and women’s empowerment. Today we are helping to promote the Coding Girls project and we hope that the business community will view this as an opportunity to encourage innovation and help prepare more women for careers in the technology field.
The United States also promotes innovation and entrepreneurship at the global level. Every year our government organizes the Global Entrepreneurship Summit, gathering young entrepreneurs from all over the world to share their experiences and ideas.
Every November, we celebrate Global Entrepreneurship Week. Coding Girls will take place at the same time and we will highlight your great work for our colleagues in Washington to spread the word about your talent and enthusiasm.
Congratulations to all of you who have completed the program and good luck to those who are participating this year. I hope you have an invigorating and rewarding experience.