Building the Female Talent of Tomorrow’s World

June 3, 2011 - 0 Comments

One of the things that Cisco prides itself on is its commitment to Inclusion and Diversity and indeed this blog is a small taster of just some of the great work Cisco employees are doing around the world to create an inclusive and diverse environment. We are committed to fully embracing the human network in all its multiplicity, fostering innovation and talent at work. In so doing, we better serve our customers and engage with our partners in the worldwide marketplace with the strength of working together.

The under-representation of women in SET – science, engineering and technology – is still a concern of today. The latest statistics I could find were from 2008 when women were only 12.3 per cent of all employees in SET occupations; this is an increase of 2.0 percentage points since 2003.* Figures from UK-based organisation WISE – Women into Science, Engineering and Construction – suggest that this figure may have raised to 14% but that is only an increase of less than 2%.

Cisco acknowledges this struggle and that is why we invited 100 teenage girls, aged 15 to 18, to meet nine inspirational women, who now work in the IT sector after scientific studies, and these women shared their experiences, motivations and educational background. The event, was simultaneously held in two places – Cisco France’s headquarters and Cisco France’s Research and Development centre – and the theme of the day was “Digital Generation: I build tomorrow’s world.”

One of these inspirational women was Ellen McArthur who established the fastest solo circumnavigation of the globe in a yacht record in 71 days, 14 hours, 18 minutes and 33 seconds. I have personally had the pleasure of hearing Ellen speak before at a previous Cisco event and I can tell you in all honesty that she epitomises the word “inspiration”. Talking to the girls on TelePresence, she shared her experiences as a sailor and also her dedication to environmental protection through her foundation – “Ellen MacArthur Foundation – Rethinking the Future”. One of Ellen’s aims was to encourage the girls to discover that discover that science and technology can transform society in a sustainable way. As someone who started off her career by saving her school dinner money for eight years in order to buy her first boat and went on to break a world record, Ellen illustrated the power of dedication, hard work and most of all belief.

The girls also participated in a number of workshops on the day including an interactive workshop where they could brainstorm with Cisco France employees on the topic “The city of the future” around 5 subjects: waste, food, mobility, education/culture and energy.

Overall the event was a great success. Feedback from the girls was extremely positive – “just amazing”, “loads of idea for our future”, “I was very fond of Ellen MacArthur’s speech” and “the speakers were very interesting and fascinating”. The team is ready for the 6th edition next year.


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