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News article7 March 2022European Innovation Council and SMEs Executive Agency3 min read

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 equally interested in science-related careers than 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) are just starting 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.

Throughout the 3 years of the project, 11 “ESTEAM Fests” (ESTEAM stands for Entrepreneurship, Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) will be organised in a total of 19 EU Member States to boost women and girls’ competences, to inspire them, and to give them the chance to connect with like-minded peers. ESTEAM online communities, for women and girls will also be 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 will learn about ESTEAM career paths and be 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 project is a pilot to test 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.

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

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

Each participating age group had adapted activities that made learning fun! For the 9-11 age  group they enjoyed “Escape Games” and used their abilities to resolve some challenges such as word search, or trust circle-walking.  For girls between 12-15 years old, they had different challenges aiming to find their own strengths, values and identity and helping them defining their path. For the oldest ones (16-18 years old) they 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, 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.


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 17 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! 


1. The Missing Entrepreneurs 2021, published in November 2021 on the OECD website: The Missing Entrepreneurs (


Publication date
7 March 2022
European Innovation Council and SMEs Executive Agency