The gender imbalance in Information and Communications Technology (ICT) continues to be a generation-to-generation challenge. A recent report on the Future of Jobs by the World Economic Forum highlights the roles and positions which are set to increase or decrease in demand over the next five years. A simple look at these statistics indicate that the jobs on the increase continue to be dominated by men, and they continue to be highly paid. And as recently as 2020, only 2.3 percent of venture capital funding flowed to female-led startups.

At Cisco Networking Academy, we have long been addressing at least one of the causes of this imbalance by encouraging women to consider studying Science Technology Engineering Arts and Mathematics (STEAM) subjects. 

Since its launch in 2014, our Women Rock-IT program has seen 1.8 million participants, of which nearly a million subsequently enrolled in Networking Academy courses. The sessions show how women use technology to forge careers, think creatively, and solve global problems. Speakers come from a wide range of industries and sectors.

For International Girls in ICT Day, on April 28, 2022, Women Rock-IT is turning its attention to esports in a special two-part series that will broadcast over Cisco TV. Through free, interactive, virtual events, speakers will show how gamers can use their skills to become IT professionals. Anyone can join our events to understand how easy the transition really is! Being gamers, they are already halfway there!

Three ways to turn gaming skills into a tech career:

Join IT’s Game On! Challenge — ends Sept 15, 2022.

Register for second Girls in ICT Day broadcast.

Take a free introductory tech course from Cisco Networking Academy.

Esports is the fastest-growing sport in the world!

Some of these figures are staggering!

  • Our Economy states that 45 percent of gamers are women, women who are underrepresented in the business of building and running these same games.
  • Esports is a business, and a big one at that, generating $175 billion globally in 2021, according to Newzoo.
  • Gameplay hinges on reliable, low latency, high-speed network connections to improve the experience for fans, pros, and the gaming industry — the kind of trusted and reliable networks that define Cisco.

The Players

Cisco is powering the future of esports as the Official Enterprise Networking Partner of Riot League of Legends Esports, helping this young, influential community thrive, connect, and reach their greatest potentials. These are our future technical decision makers; 81 percent are under 24 years old, 33 percent are in college, 19 percent are high school students, and 25 percent are employed full-time.

Cisco partnership graphic with League of Legends Esports logos.

On a micro level, gamers often build their own networks, using the sorts of job-ready skills they can improve on through Cisco Networking Academy courses that translate to any networking environment. Speed and security are some of the top priorities for gameplay.

Why are we focusing on esports?

As a technology company, a sport that is 100 percent reliant on technology is very attractive. To continue enhancing experiences for fans, professionals, and the gaming industry, we need people to build and maintain the network.

The training and skills provided by Networking Academy in Networking, Cybersecurity, and Programmable Infrastructure are the skills required to build trusted and reliable networks that gamers can rely on.

And like esports, Cisco Networking Academy encourages participants to work together, communicate, show resilience under pressure, and think strategically. In the process, participants build self-confidence, cognitive, and social skills.

International Telecommunication Union’s (ITU) theme for 2022 International Girls in ICT Day is “Access and Safety.” Clearly, safety online is an issue for women: Plan International surveyed 14,000 girls and young women in 31 countries, and found 58 percent of them had experienced online harassment. In consultation with girls and young women, ITU identified challenges they may face as they begin their journey in the digital environment and possible solutions to these challenges.

When girls can safely access and explore the digital world, they can also explore careers in ICT.

Our Speakers

For 2022, our Women Rock-IT program promises more impact than ever.

The first of our two-part esports and gaming series on April 28 will be co-hosted by Vice President and General Manager Cisco Networking Academy Laura Quintana and the dynamic Verta Maloney, Co-Founder & Chief Innovation Officer at the*gameHERs, a women-led community and media platform for women and femme-identifying gamers.

Joining them will be Shae Williams, co-founder of Coalition of Parents in Esports, who will share her experience of being a parent of a professional esports player and esport career opportunities; Maria Tamellini, CEO and founder of GamerSafer, whose expertise in keeping gamers safe online should be invaluable; and Sana Sheikh, a Network Engineer at Riot Games, and Networking Academy alumni, who will discuss the role of networking in esports.

The broadcasts will be available in four regions, and anyone can join, simply by registering online. Our speakers will be streaming off the *gameHERS Twitch account, a live-streaming service dedicated to gaming, which is sure to amplify its impact.

On International Girls in ICT Day, Networking Academy partner institutions will host events too — many of them with Cisco employee volunteers on-hand to support the virtual broadcast. Also until September 15, we’re running IT’s Game On!, an online competition encouraging students to earn points for completing activities including completing free introductory tech courses on Skills for All with Cisco Networking Academy, using Cisco Packet Tracer, social media posts, and more. Participants can customize avatars, see the global leaderboard, and compete to earn points to win great prizes.

That women are so well represented in esports is a positive sign for a more equitable future. Working together with our partners and volunteer employees to help young people see the many exciting career opportunities that gaming could lead to is one way Cisco is working to bridge the gender divide in tech.

If you’re a gamer, or interested in a career in IT, please register now!



Emma Reid

Global Marketing Manager

Cisco Networking Academy