28 Oct 2019

Cecilia Bonefeld-Dahl: Digital transformation must go hand in hand with education and inclusion

There is a big necessity for diversity in tech for more than one reason. We need it more than ever before to eliminate blind spots and ensure non-biased artificial intelligence datasets. Moreover, digital transformation creates a huge demand for employees with digital skills.

And yet, there is a blatant scarcity of women in the ICT sector and with digital skills training. Why is that? 
 
Let’s start with education. Until the age of 15, girls excel over boys at STEM subjects, but then the situation drastically changes. Men STEM graduates outnumber female STEM graduates 2 to 1. Still, that is roughly 33% of all graduates. Unfortunately, even though some women do graduate from STEM programmes, many of them do not pursue a career in this field. In fact, only 1 out of 5 ICT specialists is female.

Currently, out of all employed women, only 1,38% are ICT specialists. That is by no means enough. DIGITALEUROPE calls to drive up this number to at least 6% by 2025. With this vision, we support all initiatives that encourage and empower women to build their professional careers in tech.

1 out of 5

ICT specialists is female. Out of all employed women, only 1,38% are ICT specialists.

One such initiative is Women4IT, which DIGITALEUROPE leads as one of nine partners across Europe. Women4IT is a project that aims to empower young NEET (neither in education, employment or training) women. Its goal is to set out a tailored training plan suited for 8 different digital job profiles such as digital marketing specialist, junior web developer, quality assurance tester, etc. Based on that outline, the partners will provide digital skills training to at least 700 women from disadvantaged backgrounds and support them with job placement assistance over the next two years. As a matter of fact, all nine partners of the project met in Dublin last week to prepare for the most important activities coming up in the following couple of months.
 
Ada Awards also has my full support. It is a competition organised by the Digital Leadership Institute to promote top girls and women in digital fields in Europe in an effort to increase female involvement in the ICT sector. This year, I joined the preparations for the event as one of the jury members choosing the European Digital Girl and the Digital Women of the Year. From all finalists who undoubtedly deserved a distinction of their accomplishments, Digital Women of the Year category winner Dee Saigal was particularly inspiring. If you are curious about this digital educator’s portfolio, you can read more or join DIGITALEUROPE’s 20th Anniversary celebration, where I will interview her on digital skills fit for the new generation.
 
Fostering diversity within the ICT sector is key for it to prosper. Therefore, I encourage you to support initiatives like Women4IT, Ada Awards, and many others. Promote accomplished role models who can inspire girls and young women, reward their achievements, open your eyes – and companies – to this, often unacknowledged, pipeline of talent. Let’s work together to showcase this potential and strive to include all in the tech industry for its own benefit.

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