Gender equality and e-skills gap

2 May 2016 16:30h

Event report

[Read more session reports and live updates from the WSIS Forum 2016]

The session examined the various ways used by non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to bring more women into digital professions as well as the challenges NGOs face in doing so.

Ms Claudia Vicol (Mentoring Lead, Senior Back-End Developer, Marktplaats, the Netherlands) insisted on the need to train women to be creators of technology, not just consumers. Local communities of women can be part of bringing about this change by enabling women who have these skills to teach others in their communities.

Ms Terry Reintke (Member European Parliament, Brussels, Belgium) offered some recommendations which can be used to empower women in the digital age:

  • Encourage female entrepreneurs to start their own business.
  • Offer a special curriculum at schools for girls.
  • Address the stereotype around technological fields which make girls feel that they are meant just for boys.

She also added that despite the challenges of lack of power and poor or non-existing Internet connection, local communities can play a vital role in empowering women in the digital age.

Ms Ritu Sharma (CEO and Co-Founder, SDG Nexus, USA) shared her background, what motivated her to embrace the digital field, and how technology has pushed her to greater heights. She stated how she started by learning how to build websites that fetched her lots of money and later on she started a web development center. She was satisfied that her great achievement was because she choosed a field that was innovative.  She explained how she has been able to partner with local organisations even though challenges are always there to overcome:

  • How to work with local organisations
  • How to create local content
  • How to enable local communities to be more than users or consumers.

Ms Monique Morrow (The Internet of Women; CTO – Evangelist New Frontiers Development & Engineering at Cisco, Switzerland) noted that men have to be part of the solution to digitally empower women. She added that technology is colour neutral and gender neutral and that you don’t have to an engineer to embrace any digital field. What women need is creativity in problem solving.

The session concluded that now is a great time to jump into the digital field. The industry needs technology-based thought leaders and women represent untapped potential.

by Foncham Denis Doh