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.
One of the sessions featured 4 women on a panel all who have proved to be amazing women in their fields that consist mostly of men. Liz Howard, who has been programming since she was 12 and working since 14 as a software engineer. Her job now is teaching women to code at Hackbright Academy. Tasneem Raja an interactive editor for Mother Jones’, she specializes in web app production, interactive graphic and user interface design. Natalie Villabolos the women in tech advocate at Google. Last but not least Trish Mills Gray the software development manager of the Social/User Generated Content team within Expedia Worldwide Engineering.
Their common theme during the session called Women in Tech, the importance of talking to girls at a young age and letting them know it is okay to like science and engineering. Just about all of them recounted stories of teachers telling them they didn’t think they would get an answer right and the gender bias they grew up with. Liz even encouraged us listeners to think about presents we buy or daughters, “do we really need to get them a Barbie doll, or should you change things up?” Something I had never thought about as a mother of a 6 year old. She also said to encourage young girls to watch My Little Pony, Brave and Power Puff girls. All cartoons that include strong female characters, some of them work together as a team to solve a problem.
So during this month that we are celebrating and talking about Girls in ICT and women in tech – I will pass along this advice from the panel that now spends some of their time mentoring young talent to help get them to the next level. Please continue to talk about women in tech, don’t let this be a fad, look for those instances and talk about them and celebrate them. This month my teams’ monthly magazine called FOCUS will feature Women in Technology, take a look and tell us what you think, it will be live on April 21st.
April 25 2013 is a super day for girls and women in technology and Cisco was very present! I am so energized by the fantastic people I met throughout the day commencing with a breakfast session Women2020 platform hosted by DIGITALEUROPE with the topic of Women In Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics for Smart Growth of the pillars of the European 2020 Strategy.
The morning session included a panel chaired by Ms. Cheryl Miller, Founder of Women2020, and Dr.Hamadoun Toure’, Secretary-General of the International Telecommunications Union; Ms. Eva Fabry, Director European Centre for Women and Technology; Ms. Marietje Schaake, member of the European Parliament for the Dutch Democratic Party; Dr. John Higgins, Director-General Digital Europe; Ms. Patricia Reilly Member of the Cabinet-Research, Innovation and Science; Ms. Linda Corugedo Steneberg, Director for Cooperation-DG Connect; Ms. Sabiine Everaet, CIO Europe Group at Coca Cola and a packed room of participants including myself.
Teenage girls use computers and the Internet as much as boys do, but are five times less likely to consider a technology-related career.
In the United Kingdom, fewer than 1 in 5 computer scientists are women (Women and ICT), and in the United States, women hold more degrees than men and make up 58 percent of the professional workforce, yet their representation in ICT is less than 25 percent (NCWIT).
Companies around the world will try to reverse these trends on International Girls in ICT Day this Thursday, April 25 – an initiative organized by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU).
The future of the information and communications technology (ICT) sector is exciting. Every day, people are using the Internet, computers and mobile devices in new and innovative ways. ICT is changing the way we work, live, play and learn. And it’s opened up new employment opportunities that should appeal to men and women alike.
So, where are all the women?
Tags: Cisco, corporate social responsibility, CSR, geek stereotype, Girls, Girls in ICT, Girls in IT, Girls in Technology, ICT, Information and Communications Technology, IT, networking academy, women, Women in Technology