How do we get more women into tech? | Huawei European Talks
Why do women account for just two out of every 10 employees in the tech sector?
How do we get more women into tech?
And how do we turn them into leaders?
Beatriz Becerra of Inspiring Girls talks to Huawei’s Berta Herrero about gender equality at a time when there are 1 million unfilled digital job vacancies in Europe.
Find out more at: Inspiring Girls International - https://inspiring-girls.com
Women must be leaders in the new tech era - https://www.theparliamentmagazine.eu/news/article/technology-for-all
My name is Berta Herrero and I am a Senior EU Public Affairs Manager at Huawei Brussels. It's a pleasure to be with you today and today we are going to talk about the need to advance gender quality, especially within the tech sector.
Why is it important to speak about women and technology – or rather about women in technology?
Because it is estimated that only 2 out of 10 people working in the technology, cybersecurity or science fields are women. 2 out of 10. Of course we have reasons to be concerned and want to step up our efforts as a tech company to build a fairer and equal world.
That is why in this new #Huawei4Her series we are going to speak about the need of attracting more women to technology-related jobs.
Joining me today to discuss this issue is Beatriz Becerra, a former member of the European Parliament and Vice-President of the institution’s Subcommittee on Human Rights. During her time in Brussels, Beatriz worked relentlessly to advance gender equality. And now, she's a European Ambassador of the initiative Inspiring Girls.
Beatriz, it is very good to see you and it's a pleasure having you with us today. Hi!
Hi Berta! Thank you very much for inviting me. It's so good to see you today.
Let me start by saying thank you to Huawei for keeping up its work on raising awareness on the importance of achieving real to sustainable gender equality and especially during this Covid-19 crisis where it is the women who are carrying the burden in higher proportions. And also, I would like to raise the importance of keeping up gender equality as a goal because it's the only way for us to achieve the sustainable development goals.
Indeed, Beatriz. You're very right. If you want, later on we will talk about the pandemic. But let me first address another key issue: how to retain female talents within the tech industry?
So data shows that even if women take up tech-related jobs, they have a much higher probability of leaving their careers after having children. In many cases, this is of course not entirely a voluntary decision. So, what strategies do you think we need to put in place to ensure that women do not only work in tech, but they can also keep doing so after becoming mothers?
Well, our world is digital nowadays and digital shapes our world. And both men and women use digital technologies. Therefore, we must all participate in building our digital future. The active participation of women is instrumental for a sustainable, fair and equitable economy and society. And the most diverse and balanced teams adopt better decisions, and are more innovative, and make governments and companies progress more.
We cannot afford to waste 50% of the talent available in the world. About a million specialists in digital are needed in Europe. Having many more women training and working as digital experts is simply essential for Europe to overcome the challenges we are currently facing – and the EU knows it; hence, the ‘Women in Digital’ strategy that since last year has focused efforts on encouraging and strengthening the capacities of European women, so that they can play a more active role in the digital age.
Exactly. And still, you see academic choices and opportunities are seen as the first barrier for women to later on join the tech sector. So what can we do also to encourage more girls to take up tech-related studies?
Well, I think that gender biases and stereotypes, both in real life and in the media, play a fundamental role in shaping the current situation. Specialists working in tech are often represented as men and there is a lack of real role models that inspire girls and women to study these STEM careers.
That is why I’m honoured to be the European Ambassador of Inspiring Girls. It is a project that brings women from all sectors to tell girls in school about what they do at work and how they have become professionals. It's as simple as that! The goal is that girls can be aware of how wide the catalogue is and how many options they have in front to choose from.
So it has to be is precisely in that age, between 10 and 12 years old, when girls start wondering ‘what I want to be’, and when they are still convinced that ‘I can be whatever I want’, without the limiting weight of biases and stereotypes. Our meetings take place in the classroom, involving thousands of girls and thousands of women – and with the advantage of having boys also in the same classrooms. We will not achieve a full equality until the society as a whole feels that the need for it is real. The transforming effect of this very simple and bright idea is meant to be unstoppable.
Indeed, Beatriz. For change to happen it is true that the society as a whole needs to feel that change is needed. It sounds like a great project – what you're doing. So, thank you for your commitment and keep it up!
But going back just a second to the point that you were making about women’s role in this pandemic… So can I ask you: how has female leadership made a difference during Covid-19 and lockdowns?
Women leaders have played a significant role in fighting Covid-19. Being a woman does not guarantee to succeed – of course. And not only women have successfully managed this crisis but there are some common traits in the efficient leadership of these women. Barely 4% of the world population has a woman leader in charge. However, in this global extreme emergency these few women have become a benchmark for successful management.
So, think about countries like Germany or New Zealand or Finland. They were all well prepared to face the pandemic, in terms of resources and tools, but they also had excellent leaders who tackled the crisis rapidly and in a very innovative way. Most importantly, they have done that with empathy and honesty. This set of attributes is not unique to women (of course) but it is let's say characteristic of type of leadership that many women happen to exercise. And such leadership which deserves to be praised – I think like at all.
Indeed, Beatriz. Thanks a lot for your insights!
We need to leave it here for today but stay tuned for more #HuaweiWomenPowerTalks episodes via our social media channels. Thanks for watching and let's all continue striving for a fairer and more equal world!