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Female role models in tech will help in creating an open, diverse, and inclusive ICT industry
“Young girls need role models. So, we must share more stories about great women, and promote this topic. When more women stand out in their industries, without being labelled as women, I think that is true gender equality.” These comments by Catherine Chen, President of the Public Affairs & Communications Department at Huawei, on bridging the gender digital divide during her keynote address at this year’s The Good Summit, held in Trinity College Dublin.
The keynote address titled, “Let there be hope: Creating an open, diverse, and inclusive environment to bridge the gender digital divide”, highlighted key issues facing women in the ICT industry and the larger challenges of the digital age. There are 250 million less connected women than men globally and this challenge results in less women entering careers in ICT. A study by the European Commission in 2018 reveals that only 24 out of every 1,000 female graduates have a degree in ICT or a related field, with only six pursuing careers in ICT directly.
Offering solutions to this issue, Madam Chen emphasised the importance of challenging the stereotype that women are not good with technology and empowering women by giving them more opportunities and helping them learn basic skills to compete in the digital economy. She applauded Ireland’s commitment to gender equality as the country ranked 7th in the Global Gender Gap Index 2020, published by the World Economic Forum.
While a role model in her own right, having worked in the ICT industry for 26 years, Madam Chen also spoke about many other outstanding women working at Huawei including Dr Peiying Zhu, who is currently leading 5G wireless system research at Huawei focused on advanced wireless access technologies; Dr Wan Lei, who has led the Huawei standardisation efforts of 4G and 5G technologies since 2008 and is a recent recipient of the 3GPP Lifetime Achievement Award; and Ms He Tingbo who is the President of HiSilicon and President of the 2012 Laboratories.
In Ireland, Huawei is committed to providing more opportunities to women, while simultaneously cultivating the future of the country’s ICT talent. Huawei’s ‘Seeds for the Future’ programme offers third-level students the opportunity to develop their understanding of the ICT industry by studying the latest developments of cloud computing and AI, and more. In Ireland, 30% of the programme’s participants are women and Huawei hopes to increase this to 50%. The programme will take place online this year and applications are now open.