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Why Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Matters for Girls

April 14, 2014 - 18 Comments

I am writing this blog as the 2014 recipient of the IEEE Women in Engineering Region 8 Clementina Saduwa Award named after an amazing woman whose life was cut short in 2007. On a personal level, I am extremely passionate about the possibilities that technology presents for young girls and aspiring women. As a CTO for Cisco Services, my own role is concentrated on the use of technologies to develop architectures that will delight our customers. Why is technology interesting to me?  It’s what one can do with the technology as an enabler to solving problems and to creating opportunities.

I became interested in technology because of my curiosity and encouragement from wonderful individuals who helped pave the way for me. My personal career highlights are numerous where risk taking and passion for making a difference in this world are common attributes. Our world needs young girls to create their own career path in Information and Communication Technology (ICT). A career in technology can be fun!

My mother was role model and encouraged me to be the person I want to be. Coming together to solve a problem and to create opportunities – we can rise above gender discrimination – but it’s about being bold in the process and having the courage to do so -make no doubt about this fact.  I dream of a society where such a topic is no longer an issue but so engrained in our DNA !

What is Cisco doing?

Cisco has been very active in the ITU’s Girls in ICT initiative, where girls from secondary schools or universities are invited to spend the day at the office of ICT companies and government agencies so they better understand the opportunities the ICT sector holds for their future see.

ITU will have a live webcast on April 15 2014 at 12:30 CET.

Cisco wants to encourage girls to consider ICT as a valuable career option. We understand the value of diversity in the workforce and it is our aspiration to build a gender -balanced workforce. At Cisco, two of the top technology positions are held by women: both the Chief Technology Officer (CTO) and the CIO (Chief Information Officer) of Cisco are female. “If you cannot see it, you cannot be it!”

At Cisco, we take our commitment to making ICT career opportunities open to all seriously. We understand the value of a diverse workforce and believe that many more girls would pursue careers in ICT if they were better informed about the many different types of jobs available within the sector. By 2020 there will be approximately 50 billion things connected to the Internet. At its essence, the Internet of Everything is the networked connection of people, process, data and things…and is set to create an unprecedented level of disruption across industries, globally.

In fact,  Cisco offices around the world are getting ready to host #GirlsInICT Day 2014! Girls to create ICT jobs of tomorrow #STEM #GirlsInIC

Further Cisco Networking Academies helps students prepare for IT careers and higher education in engineering, computer science and related fields. They help students improve their career and economic opportunities. Cisco Networking Academy is the world’s largest classroom: with more than 1 million students participating in the program at present Networking Academy delivers information and communications technology (ICT) education through a combination of in-classroom learning and innovative cloud-based curricula. Networking Academy began in 1997 with 64 schools.

Today, there are 10,000 academies in 165 countries, and more than 4 million students participated in the program to date.

There is no doubt that ICT matters for girls now and in the future and the future is NOW and Cisco is paving way forward for girls and young women!

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  1. Dear Sandeep
    I truly appreciate your comment and look to wonderful individuals as yourself to inspire a generation of people to enter this wonderful profession.

    See also;


  2. Monique many Congrats!!!
    I agree with you that there should be a close engagement during transition of students from school level to colleges/universities as this is the time when people are confused and wish to gain details on their thoughts.
    Truly, this is inspiring story.

  3. Monique
    Congratulations on the well-deserved award – and on continuing to tell this important and inspiring story.

  4. Awesome to hear Julie!
    Thanks always!

  5. Love the idea of positioning technology as an enabler to solving problems and to creating opportunities – I think this will resonate with many girls. Also, your blog has inspired me to help my three daughters see how careers in technology can be fun. Thanks for sharing and for highlighting all the great work Cisco is doing in this space- makes me proud to work at Cisco.

  6. Monique, Thanks for continuing to champion this work. I’m starting to talk with the Networking Academy folks as to the feasibility of a “course” for the middle school ranks that will target the application of of what these skills can enable. We’re a long way from this, but anything you can do to further this would be great, as we know that the inflection point for girls is middle school.

  7. Monique, Congratulations on the award! It is great to see Cisco woman executive being recognized in the technical field. Thank you for your relentless effort in this very important cause!

  8. Monique – thank you for championing this very important cause…Awareness and education are the key to driving greater diversity – Thank you!

  9. Thanks for sharing, Monique! Indeed, awareness and education are the foundation. Each of us needs to expand our sphere of influence to embrace the diversity of thought that comes from diverse teams. The various Inclusion and Diversity initiatives at Cisco enables us a platform to make a difference, one community at a time.

    • Spot on Deepika!

      It is my dream: One day we will no longer need to advocate as this topic will be so engrained in what we do as individuals .
      Deepika thanks for all you do!

  10. Monique, what an inspiring story and what a call to action! The value of education to future success is important to all but the value of encouragement is priceless. Our daughters, our nieces, our grand daughters need role models like you and Rebecca and Padma to show them that anything is possible and they need encouragement from the rest of us who believe it! As Deb said, thanks for championing the cause!

    • Don, Thank you so much for these kind words- you made my day!

      It is all about the collective AND e.g the possibilities of what such a career in technology can be for our girls leaving them with fantastic choices!
      Thanks again!

  11. Monique, what can we do to encourage girls in elementary school as well, so that by the time they get to Secondary school a job in ICT is equally considered? Thanks for championing this cause!

    • Dear Deb
      I believe we need to engage at K-12 grades. We do have Cisco ambassador program as an example; or simply engage as individuals-volunteers; working with teachers and so on. Role models are great also — to the point of “if you can’t see it, you can’t be it!” I would be very interested in your ideas!