On social media, 77 percent of paid influencers are women. And while it may not yet be the case in developing countries, in developed countries and the Americas women make up half of all Internet users.

But despite this, according to UNESCO, “women remain a minority in digital information technology, computing, physics, mathematics and engineering, the very fields that are driving the Fourth Industrial Revolution and, thus, many of the jobs of tomorrow.”

In short, women use technology, but are not well-represented when it comes to managing, designing, or building the tech platforms or infrastructure that they rely on.

Tech needs more women

The good news is that the needle is moving. In the 25 years since its inception, 26 percent of the people who identified by gender at Networking Academy have been women. And while the proportion of women in the program is generally increasing, we know we can do even more.

Our goal at Networking Academy for the last 25 years has been to provide an inclusive future for all, and this includes women too. The United Nations’ International Day of Women and Girls in Science is an ideal time to reflect on what Networking Academy is doing to engage more girls and women in science, technology, engineering, arts and maths (STEAM) education.

Women Rock-IT

Our Women Rock IT initiative aims to inspire girls and women to consider STEAM subjects by showcasing opportunities technology careers can bring to a young person’s future. Since 2014, more than 2 million participants have joined a live broadcast and 870,000 participants have enrolled in a Cisco Networking Academy course as a result.

Cisco Networking Academy is an IT skills-to-jobs program offering digital skills training through strong public-private partnerships, high-quality curriculum, and inclusive workforce development programs.

The Networking Academy program has always provided learners with hands-on experience that relates to the in-demand jobs in the tech industry. In recent times we’ve taken that a step further, by nominating a Cisco Networking Academy Dream Team of students to help build the networking infrastructure at large-scale events under the guidance of industry professionals.

Networking Academy Dream Team

Past events that Dream Team students have helped prepare for include international Cisco Live! Events with as many as 28,000 attendees, NFL events such as the season opener kick-off game and Super Bowl, the Global Citizen Festival, and The Open Championship, among others.

The Dream Team works with Cisco’s Network Operation Center team to ensure a smooth event with uninterrupted wireless connectivity. Working alongside the Network Operation Center engineers, Dream Team members gain hands-on experience and network for potential job offerings.

To get involved in a Dream Team project learners must first be nominated by their instructors and then submit an application. Networking Academy instructors are contacted by email about upcoming opportunities in their area. Final participants are selected by Cisco and/or our partners, depending on the event, and invited to join the project.

Sharing Experiences

Women who have participated as members of the Dream Team have some great stories to tell, not just about their experience on the Dream Team, but also about Networking Academy in general, and how they see it helping their careers.

Ishika Batra, an international student at Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne, Australia, is one such student, who as part of the Dream Team helped install the wireless network for the Cisco Live! Asia Pacific event in Melbourne in 2022. A Computer Science Engineering student and an aspiring cybersecurity specialist, Ishika feels Networking Academy is pointing her in the right direction.

A Computer Science Engineering student and an aspiring cybersecurity specialist, Ishika says the opportunity to participate in Cisco Live! was entirely thanks to Networking Academy and its instructors. “Not only did they provide me with different opportunities but also their courses help a lot to understand the concepts and apply them in real life,” she says.

Mariah Taylor was part of the Dream Team that helped prepare the network for Cisco Live! 2022 in Las Vegas. Because tech is a career change, she feels highly motivated to learn as much as she can about it from a variety of sources. Working with Cisco’s Network Operation Center team represented an opportunity to learn from the best.

“One of the things I love the most about the IT field is its continuous growth and innovation—there’s always something to learn and you’ll never be bored,” she says.

Liz Brice, a Bachelor of Cybersecurity and Networking Academy student, was also part of the Dream Team working on Cisco Live! Asia Pacific. Liz originally joined Networking Academy because she wanted to learn from networking experts while transitioning from another career. And working as part of the Dream Team she learned from the best.

Liz also appreciated the opportunity to attend sessions at Cisco Live!, particularly the Women in Cisco event, because “I love meeting women and hearing their inspiring stories in IT,” she says.

You too can go backstage and hear inspiring stories from Ishika, Liz and other women who have joined the Dream Team around the world live on February 16, as part of our Women Rock IT initiative. There will be four sessions on the day in different time zones, so girls and women anywhere around the globe will have a chance to hear these inspiring stories.

A graphic with photos and descriptions about the Dream Team participants

Register to participate in the Women Rock-IT event on February 16!

Backstage with the Dream Team



Emma Reid

Global Marketing Manager

Cisco Networking Academy