Filling the Gender Gap in STEM Fields: Effectiveness and Ambiguity of an Empowerment Policy


  • Clementina Casula Università degli Studi di Cagliari




Initiatives tackling the persistent underrepresentation of women in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) increasingly associate measures to upgrade women’s technological skills with techniques designed to boost their self-confidence and motivation, inspired by empowerment theory. Drawing upon a technofeminist approach, the paper offers the results of a qualitative research on the Pink Cloud initiative, launched by Microsoft Italy with the support of other institutions. The initiative offers, to high school and university girls, intensive training courses designed to enhance both their ICT skills and professional aspirations within fields still manned by men. It therefore represents a good case to explore the effectiveness of empowerment measures aimed at women’s inclusion in STEM fields. Through a qualitative research based on focus group analysis, the paper identifies the initiative’s main strengths and weaknesses, to conclude that women’s empowerment is best understood as a social, rather than an individual process. 


Key words: gender segregation, women in STEM policies, glass ceiling, empowerment

Author Biography

Clementina Casula, Università degli Studi di Cagliari

Ricercatrice di Sociologia dei processi economici e del lavoro

Dipartimento di Scienze Sociali e delle Istituzioni

Università di Cagliari