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Cisco Offices Worldwide Celebrate International Girls in ICT Day

April 18, 2014
at 4:58 pm PST

Even though I grew up surrounded by engineers and technology in Silicon Valley, I didn’t decide to seriously study science until my freshman year in college, when I switched my major from economics to theoretical mathematics at the suggestion of my calculus professor. That was the first time a teacher told me I had a strong aptitude for math and encouraged me to expand my idea of what kinds of studies and careers to pursue. Mentors are widely recognized as being a key factor in helping girls decide to study science and technology. This is especially true in developing counties where there are traditionally fewer professional female role models. Cisco is a champion for educating girls and women in technology and understands the importance of mentors early in a girl’s academic career. This is why 70 Cisco offices in 52 countries are putting on events for International Girls in ICT Day, introducing students to successful professionals and encouraging them to study science and technology.

Girls Visit Cisco Headquarters

International Girls in ICT Day is a global event held in April each year to help empower and encourage girls and young women to consider studies and careers in information and communications technology (ICT).  I attended the Girls in ICT Day event at Cisco headquarters in San Jose, California on April 11 with 47 girls ranging from 8 to 18 years old from 9 local schools. Cisco’s commitment to helping girls increase their opportunities through a technology career was evident throughout the day.

47 girls from 9 schools attended the Girls in ICT Day event at Cisco headquarters in San Jose, California. Here the girls share their favorite activities with the group.

47 girls from 9 schools attended the Girls in ICT Day event at Cisco headquarters in San Jose, California. Here the girls share their favorite activities with the group.

Dave Goddard, Cisco’s Vice President of Energy Solutions, gave a short talk about technology and the rising influence that the Internet of Everything is having in society. He conducted a lively Q&A with dozens of astute questions from the girls. It is a sign of the times that his own 8-year-old daughter Isabella, who attended the event, said she wanted to be a Cisco engineer like her father when she grew up.

Another highlight of the day was a Q&A session with a panel of 5 Cisco employees who are recent college graduates. Software engineer Jessica Thrasher, Industrial Engineer/Business Analyst Cindy Gonzalez, Program Managers Ayo Balogun and Lauren Petruccelli, and HR Manager Alice Tang certainly modeled to the girls that technical careers can be fun, as well as rewarding, and that being geeky is cool. Interesting work, good pay, and better career options are some of the benefits of an ICT career, they said. The girls also got a chance to see that women can have a career in technology even if they don’t want to be engineers. After a day of hearing about technology trends, meeting ICT professionals, and using Cisco technology, a lot of the attendees said they were thinking about a career in ICT.

A panel of recent college hires at Cisco answered questions from the girls about careers in technology
A panel of recent college hires at Cisco answered questions from the girls about careers in technology


Girls in ICT Day Around the Globe

North America

Other North American Cisco offices in North Carolina, New York, Massachusetts, Texas, Kansas, and Canada also held Girls in ICT Day events on April 11 where girls could learn about technology and talk with women who work in the field. In all of the events, Cisco technology, such as Cisco TelePresence video conferencing, was used to help the girls connect with Cisco executives and with attendees from other locations.

Cisco offices in Texas and Kansas in the United States and in Toronto, Canada, connect visiting school girls via Cisco TelePresence technology for Girls In ICT Day.

Cisco offices in Texas and Kansas in the United States and in Toronto, Canada, connect visiting school girls via Cisco TelePresence technology for Girls In ICT Day.

Europe, the Middle East, and Africa

On March 27 and April 8, 208 girls participated in Girls in ICT Day from 11 countries in 3 different parts of the world: Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. A highlight: on April 8, Cisco TelePresence technology connected Cisco executives in London with school girls in Bulgaria, Belarus, Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt, Jordan, Pakistan, Senegal, Nigeria, and South Africa. The Cisco employees talked about their own career paths and the school girls shared stories from their school and countries. The Belarus girls even sang their school song!

Each office organized a series of activities to introduce the attendees to careers in ICT and female role models. Some offices had women who are Cisco professionals share their experience with the girls and brought in inspirational women leaders from other companies as well. In the Middle East, a representative from the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), which established Girls in ICT Day in 2010, gave a presentation about ICT career opportunities.

The girls around the world enjoyed the day. For example, Adama from Senegal commented that “I learned from the executive speakers that we can achieve innovation and creativity by becoming curious, asking questions, and staying confident.” A school girl from Bulgaria reported that the day “was really interesting and motivating! After the presentation I felt a lot more secure and sure about my choice to work in the IT field.” When asked why they wanted a career in ICT the girls had ready responses. Aicha wants a technology career to help disadvantaged people and change their lives and Haby wants to work in ICT “because right from childhood, my parents always made me feel technology wasn’t for me and just for my brothers. I want to prove them wrong.”

208 girls in 11 countries from Europe, the Middle East, and Africa attended Girls in ICT events at Cisco offices

208 girls in 11 countries from Europe, the Middle East, and Africa attended Girls in ICT events at Cisco offices

I’m happy that my career path and my mentors led me to a company so dedicated to educating girls in technology. Here, I have the chance to inspire girls to study science and technology even earlier in their lives than I did. Cisco offices will be holding 50 more Girls In ICT Day events in 40 more countries around the world between April 24 and May 22.

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10 Comments.


  1. When I was a young girl, my big brother’s friends called me “Becknerd” and I always cringed. Now as a silicon valley co-founder, I now remember this old nickname and feel proud. Love that Cisco is doing things like this. We need smart women doing powerful things and feeling great about it.

       2 likes

    • Rebecca, I wholly agree with what you say and I’m particularly taken with your last sentence. We need (more) smart women doing powerful things and feeling great about it. What a succinct and spot-on way to put it!

         0 likes

  2. April 18, 2014 at 6:05 pm

    Great story Rebecca! We do need all people to realize and live up to their full potential.

       1 like

  3. These kind of opportunities have a great impact in students’ lives. In Turkey MoE supports ICT career and we have a huge potential from vocational high schools who are really hunger to learn new things. Whenever I meet them in an ICT session, I really get surprised to their motivation on ICT related concepts.

       1 like

    • April 21, 2014 at 12:52 pm

      We have the same experience Ozan. Students are hungry for knowledge, especially for technical skills that can help their careers.

         0 likes

  4. Cisco should work on Skill Development programs for Girl’s and women in remote area of India.

       1 like

  5. These are great events, and I hope that we will have here in Saudi Arabia like these events from Cisco or any other activities.

       0 likes

    • April 30, 2014 at 1:52 pm

      Amal,

      There will be a Girls in ICT day event in Saudi Arabia on May 8. Other events in your region on that day will occur in Turkey, Dubai, Kuwait and Oman.

         0 likes

    • May 14, 2014 at 2:53 pm

      Amal, here is a picture of the Cisco Girls in ICT Day in Riyadh: https://twitter.com/CiscoCSR/status/464406726981083136

         0 likes

  6. April 30, 2014 at 1:48 pm

    Good suggestion Kisholoy. Cisco offers skill development programs for women and girls in remote areas of India and other countries through Cisco Networking Academy which has trained millions of students in 165 countries: http://csr.cisco.com/casestudy/networking-academy

    To find out where NetAcad courses are offered in your area, you can use this page:
    https://www.netacad.com/web/about-us/academy-locator

       0 likes