This blog was guest-written by Sandy Walsh, Director, Social Picture1Innovation Group – Asia Pacific and Japan Cisco

Digitization is changing the world. More than ever, there’s a tremendous opportunity to be a global problem solver who can innovate as a technologist, think like an entrepreneur and act as a social change agent.

According to the European Commission, in the near future, 90% of jobs – in fields as diverse as art, engineering, accounting, nursing, medicine, and architecture – will require digital skills. But today, women make up only 32% of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) graduates worldwide and represent a mere 27% of workers in computer science, engineering, and physics fields in some of the world’s emerging economies.

In Australia, women account for less than a fifth of the 460,000-strong IT workforce, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, and the figures have changed little over the past decade. If current gender gap trends continue, women are at risk of losing out on tomorrow’s best jobs.

So, there is an amazing opportunity for young women to shape the future. If you want to influence our society, if you want to help shape our increasingly digitized and connected world, you need to have a seat at the table — the tech table.

Women haven’t always pursued tech careers, though. Some think it’s boring, that it’s a boys club, that it’s not for them – stop! As a woman who has been working in the tech Industry for the past 25 years, I understand why these gender stereotypes have evolved.

Although I’ve had my share of being the only women in the room, working in the tech industry has given me the most fantastic career opportunities; it’s been anything but boring or a boys club. I’ve traveled the world, I’ve never spent my ‘9-5’ in the same office, and I can work from wherever I choose.

And the best part is that I have had the privilege of using technology to drive social change and improve peoples’ lives.

On a recent trip to Cambodia, I was fortunate enough to meet students from Passerelles Numeriques Cambodia (PNC), an international NGO that’s also a Cisco Networking Academy. They prepare impoverished youth for technology careers, helping them break the cycle of poverty and raise the standard of living for them and their families.

In a country like Cambodia, where many people live on less than $1 a day and more than half are under the age of 21, it was inspiring for me to see that 50% of PNC students are female.  After three years, these graduates are earning nearly five times the national average salary and are not only changing their futures, but those of their families and communities.

And the great thing about having tech expertise is that it doesn’t just prepare you for future job opportunities in existing companies, but opens up the potential to start your own business and create your own social impact.

There are plenty of reasons young women should aspire to work in technology. It offers a wealth of opportunity, and these opportunities are only going to continue to expand in an increasingly hyper-connected world. More importantly, the industry needs future female leaders. According to McKinsey, companies with a critical mass of female executives perform better than those without women in leadership positions.

Technology studies can put students at the forefront of innovation and technological breakthroughs, and these skills have never been more relevant in society and played such an important part in driving economic success.

In Asia Pacific and Japan, Cisco will launch the third Women Rock-IT Cisco TV series on November 29 with a focus on female Global Problem Solvers who are shaking up the tech world. So I urge you all, join the tech revolution!

Join us and meet the amazing women using technology to change the world. Sign up for Women Rock-IT today!


Austin Belisle

No Longer with Cisco