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European Innovation Council and SMEs Executive Agency (EISMEA)
ESTEAM Fests and Communities

for girls and women

About the project

Empowering women and girls through digital and entrepreneurial competences with ESTEAM Fests and Communities

Nearly four out of ten women in the EU (38%) reported during the period 2016-20 that they had the skills and knowledge to start a business, relative to half of men1. Studies also show that, although girls are interested in science-related careers as equally as boys at a young age, they tend to deviate from Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) topics as they grow up.

The European Commission and the European Innovation and SMEs Executive Agency (EISMEA) implement a project together with Deloitte, the European Women Association and Vlajo to empower women and girls in particular by boosting their digital and entrepreneurial competences and increasing their confidence to choose STEM career paths.

ESTEAM Communities

Throughout the 3-year duration of the project, 11 “ESTEAM Fests” (ESTEAM stands for Entrepreneurship, Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) have been and will be organised in 19 EU Member States with the aim to boost women and girls’ competences, inspire them, and give them the chance to connect with like-minded peers. ESTEAM online communities for women and girls are being built to sustain the momentum of the events and to allow them to keep learning and connecting with their peers online. Throughout the Fests and communities’ workshops and activities, participants learn about ESTEAM career paths and are inspired by women role models who thrive in these domains, while developing not only their digital and entrepreneurial competences but also their collaboration, creativity, problem-solving and public speaking skills.

This pilot project tests an approach that aims to empower women and girls, with the view to potentially be replicated by different stakeholders to enhance entrepreneurial mindsets and contribute to closing the digital skills gap in the EU.

1. The Missing Entrepreneurs 2021, published in November 2021 on the OECD website: The Missing Entrepreneurs (oecd-ilibrary.org)

ESTEAM Fests

ESTEAM map

Key highlights of the ESTEAM Project:

Since the launch of the ESTEAM Project in January 2022, more than 2 400 girls and women have participated in our online and in-person activities. We have held ESTEAM Fests in 7 countries so far and will be going to 7 others within the next year. Across all activities, participants have joined from 38 different countries.

The first ESTEAM FESTs took place in May and June 2022, and they were packed with interesting content and activities. 

On 19-20 May 2022 the 1st Girls ESTEAM Fest took place in a hybrid format (on-site and online).

Each participating age group had adapted activities that made learning fun! Girls in the 9-11 age group enjoyed “Escape Games” and used their abilities to resolve some challenges such as word search, or trust circle-walking.Girls between 12-15 years old had different challenges aiming to find their own strengths, values and identity and helping them defining their path. The oldest ones (16-18 years old) had to work on a real life business case with high impact solving societal challenges and then they had to pitch in front of the project team. 

The 1st Women ESTEAM Fest took place on 13-14 June 2022, one day online and one day in person.

Each day was composed of different plenary sessions with inspiring speakers and workshops to boost the entrepreneurial and digital skills of the participants.

The workshops provided covered a large variety of topics such as: Design Thinking, Personal branding, Personal leadership as key to confidence, Process Excellence in the Digital Core: Explore SAP, Transforming organisations with Enterprise Architecture, Exploring the Metaverse, Bring your business idea to the next level, Project Management, AI lab, 4 Quick (and Cheap) Stages to Test a Startup Idea, Public Speaking, Uncovering the business potential of blockchain and Digitalisation & Phygital.

 

The 2nd edition of the Girls’ ESTEAM Fest took place in Dublin, Ireland and Malta in physical presence.

On 17 November 2022, the ESTEAM Fest in Ireland was joined by approximately 80 girls, including 2 Ukrainian girls. The girls were coming from 3 Irish schools that are hosting children coming from more disadvantaged backgrounds.

The workshops were designed based on the competences comprised in DigComp and EntreComp. The 16-18 years old girls worked on creating an App to solve a challenge in either the ‘access to finance’ or ‘mental & physical health’ areas, and then pitched their solution to the audience. The 12–15-year-old girls talked about ESTEAM and sustainability and proposed some solutions to an environmental challenge of choice.

The role models that inspired the girls with their life story were: Katie Mullan - captain of Ireland’s field hockey team and also with a career in biomedicine; Arushi Doshi – expert in cyber security and digital forensic; and Aisling Stafford – engineer and data analyst.

2nd edition of the Girls’ ESTEAM Fest

On 25 November 2022, approximately 180 girls participated in the Girls’ Fest in Malta, coming from 7 Maltese schools, mostly public schools. The workshops were tailored to their age and adapted to Malta’s unique history.  The workshops were designed based on the competences comprised in DigComp and EntreComp. The content included learning about entrepreneurship, science and technology, problem solving and becoming familiar with the online platform TRIBO. During the workshops, all girls - aged 11-13 years old - talked about their interest in ESTEAM and played a game related to it, learning about role models and tackling how to be safe online. The role model that inspired the girls with their life story was the CEO of Gadgets and Radio Malta host of Vibe FM.

The Girls’ Fest in Malta on 25 November 2022

The 2nd edition of the Women’s ESTEAM Fest took place in Thessaloniki Greece on 12 December 2022.

Approximately 150 women, a majority of them university students, participated in the Fest that lasted the entire day. The Fest started with inspiring speeches from role models – Lina Tsaltampasi from SEGE, the Greek Association supporting women entrepreneurs and Myladie Stoumbou – Start-up Mentor and Women Leadership Advocate, who used a Grace Hopper’s quote: “A ship in port is safe, but that’s not what ships are built for”.

Throughout the day, there were 3 rounds of 3 workshops each, designed based on the DigComp and EntreComp competences, but also including themes like Design Thinking, how to build a company, how to access finance, women in sustainability and women in AI.

2nd edition of the Women’s ESTEAM Fest in Thessaloniki Greece on 12 December 2022

The 3rd edition of the Girls’ and Women’s ESTEAM Fests took place in Warsaw, Poland, Brussels, Belgium, Luxembourg and online.

On 28 and 29 March 2023, approximately 120 girls and women participated in the Fest that lasted for two days.

The first day was dedicated to the Girls’ ESTEAM Fest. Throughout the day, the girls listened to a few inspirational speakers and women entrepreneurs (present physically or online). They learned about stereotypes, Polish female role models from the past and present, being safe online, and what technology can do. The participants experienced a workshop on Design Thinking that focused on the importance of a user-centric approach to services and products. The girls also had the task to design an App and the topics they chose included time management, motivation, nutrition habits, recycling and waste management, handling personal finances and even air quality. A few participants from another EU initiative – Girls Go Circular – presented the idea of the project and their achievements acquired in the field of digital and entrepreneurial skills for the circular economy.

The second day was dedicated to the Women’s ESTEAM Fest. The inspirational speakers reminded everyone of the value and role of technology in any kind of profession, and that digital skills are a necessity for women and can be developed at a later stage in life. The participants learned about practical tips on branding yourself on LinkedIn, navigating the job market, and succeeding in project management. The deep-dive sessions offered focused on the following topics and tools: Design Thinking, cybersecurity, SAP (System Analysis Program Development), DevOps and software development, enterprise architecture, and AI & "phygital".

3rd edition of the Girls’ and Women’s ESTEAM Fests in Warsaw, Poland, Brussels, Belgium, Luxembourg and online

On 2 and 16 May 2023, a dedicated Girls’ ESTEAM Fests took place in Brussels, Belgium. Across the two days, more than 180 girls participated in practical workshops to learn about how to be safe online, how to create a strong password and learned about female role models who choose to follow a career in STEM.

Girls’ ESTEAM Fests in Brussels, Belgium

On 1 June 2023, a Girls’ Fest was organised in Luxembourg during which 25 participants aged between 12 and 15 years old learnt about artificial intelligence (AI) and enjoyed the participation of inspiring role models who discussed their experiences in computer science.

Girls’ Fest in Luxembourg on 1 June 2023

On 20 June 2023, a Women’s ESTEAM Fest was held online with more than 80 participants.  The  event was dedicated to women who aspire to enhance their digital and entrepreneurial competences. This event aimed at empowering women by providing valuable insights, practical knowledge, and networking opportunities. A particular highlight of the event was the speech by Agnieszka Wojdyr, policy officer at the European Commission, who provided interesting resources to complement her insightful workshop on how to get funding as an entrepreneur.

The agenda covered cutting-edge topics with renowned industry experts through practical and interactive workshops: 
 
1. The challenges and opportunities of digital adoption in business with Rosa Metra 
2. You Are the Brand: Learn about personal branding with Mihaela Raluca Tudor 
3. Golden Rules for Contracts: Delve into the legal realm with Iulia Berea (Stoianof) 
4. The Artistic and Scientific Qualities of Medicine - the Key to Living Well and Healthy” by Dr. Luiza Spiru 
5. Mastering the Art of Negotiation: Learn from Genoveva Turcu 
6. ABCs of Finance: Explore finance with Ida Beerhalter 

Women’s ESTEAM Fest online on 20 June 2023

The 4th Girls and Women ESTEAM Fest took place in Merida, Spain on 16 October 2023. As with every ESTEAM Fest, the overarching goal was to advance the entrepreneurial and digital competences of women and girls, to boost their confidence, raise awareness on stereotypes and barriers and empower them to become entrepreneurs and pursue careers in business, science, and technology. Approximately 180 girls and women participated in the Fest. This was the first time that a Girls ESTEAM Fest was organized in parallel with a Women ESTEAM Fest, which created benefits on both sides.

The women were able to act as mentors for girls, and the girls got to meet in person role models that inspired them. This was also the first time that the ESTEAM Fest took place not in a capital city but in a region – Extremadura. This gave the festival more visibility.

During the workshops of the Girls ESTEAM Fest, the participants – girls aged 10 to 12 – had to choose one regional problem that they wanted to solve, such as: improve tourism in the region, make the region greener by recycling more, reduce water waste in the region, or help children in the region at risk of social isolation. Once they chose a topic, the girls worked in small groups and followed the entrepreneurship steps of ideation, prototyping and elevator pitch. A particular attention was given to the elevator pitch: all girls benefited from the support of female mentors that explained to them how they can do a concise pitch, including when asking an investor for funding.

During the Women ESTEAM Fest, the inspirational speakers stressed the importance of the presence of women in science, technology, and entrepreneurship. Two round tables were offered, one debating the experience of women in the technology sector, and the other one focusing on women in science. The participants had plenty of opportunities to network and were encouraged by the organizers to spread the learning further to their circles of friends, colleagues and beyond. In the afternoon, the participants visited the local FabLab and the high-tech incubator dedicated to bioeconomy and circular economy.

Fest in Spain Group Picture
Fest in Spain Girls

The Girls and Women ESTEAM Fest was organised in Bucharest, Romania, on 28 and 29 November 2023. Approximately 110 teen girls worked on issues in mental health, education, climate change and reaching goals. While 70 women in university worked on personal branding, marketing, sales and discovering strengths and values. 

ESTEAM Fest in Bucharest on 28-29 November 2023
Audience listening to the speech at the ESTEAM Fest in Bucharest on 28-29 November 2023

The 5th edition of the Women ESTEAM Fest was organised in Milan, Italy on 8 March 2024. Approximately 130 women participated in the Fest. These were selected from a pool of approximately 200 applications received. Some of them were university students from Italy or abroad, would-be entrepreneurs or women intending to change their careers. Most of them had heard about the Fest from social media.

During the plenary, the participants listened to local role models that told their success stories, focusing on challenges, problem-solving and solutions. They also stressed the importance of the presence of women in science, technology, and entrepreneurship. One of the inspiring role models was Amalia Ercoli Finzi, an advocate for women in science, the first Italian woman to become an aeronautical engineer, who was involved with several NASA - Italian Space Agency missions.

During the workshops, the participants learned about data visualization and how to work with data in a more efficient and appealing way. They also heard about what to do and not to do when speaking in public and had the opportunity to practice in front of their peers. They learned how to use the business canvas to put an entrepreneurial idea into practice, and how to pitch and fine-tune their proposals.

The 5th edition of the GIRLS ESTEAM Fest took place in Berlin, Germany on 25 April 2024. The date was chosen to coincide with the successful celebrations of Girls’ Day in Germany. The Fest was hosted by the Federal Ministry for Economy and Climate Action. This was the first time that an ESTEAM Fest was co-organized with a ministry of an EU Member State.

A total of 120 girls aged 12 to 16 participated in the Fest. In order to join the Fest, the girls had to complete an online application form (with parental guidance). This allowed the participation of girls from several schools both from Berlin and from the greater Brandenburg area.

Two inspiring female role models who started a company (JuniorJob) at age 15 shared their story on how they went from an idea to having 12 employees and creating an App and platform that helps students get internships and part-time jobs.

During the workshops, most of them facilitated by entrepreneurs, the participants had the opportunity to practice their entrepreneurial mindset. They worked on creating a sustainable youth center and how to make fashion more sustainable, solved local energy issues, explored what one can do with coding and physics in a lab, and learned how to communicate like a journalist. All participants presented their posters and 3D or digital models in the closing plenary.

Coming up

Don't miss the opportunity to join a vibrant community of like-minded individuals and embark on a journey of personal and professional growth.

The 5th edition of the ESTEAM Fest will take place in 2024 in:

  • Prague, Czech Republic in June (Women)

Did you miss it? Join the events and communities now!

Do you identify as a woman and are interested in boosting your digital and/or entrepreneurial skills?

Do you identify as a girl, are between 9 and 18 years old, and are interested in boosting your digital and/or entrepreneurial skills? Or are you a teacher or a parent looking to support girls in this journey?

  • Join our Girls ESTEAM community to develop your skills, to learn about digital and entrepreneurship and to connect with other like-minded girls and mentors!

And stay tuned for future ESTEAM Fest dates!