The fourth Thursday in April – this year, April 23, 2020 – was International Girls in ICT day, a day that seeks to help create a global environment that empowers and encourages girls and young women to consider studies and careers in the growing field of information and communication technologies (ICTs). Organizations from all sectors were encouraged to undertake activities on and/or around that day to support the objectives of the day and to share information about their activities. To date, hundreds of thousands of girls have been involved in activities in over 160 countries.
Social media challenge and girls and women talking tech
In support of the day and of the EQUALS Global Partnership for Gender Equality in the Digital Age, International Telecommunications Union (ITU) and UNICC kicked off the celebration with a social media challenge where women in tech across the UN and the private sector posted about what ICT for Girls Day meant to them, identifying any mentors they had along their tech careers and journeys.
Then, ITU and UNICC began the video project portion of the initiative, a series of online interviews by girls in technology in conversation with women in technology.
It is really special that I keep hearing both of our themes being exploring your passions and doing so with curiosity and a creative mindset. I hope that those whoever will listen to our discussion will encourage the young people in their lives to also apply these same themes to their dreams as well.
Emily Bennett, UNICC Business Relationship Manager to Arushi Aggarwal, the CEO of Unknown16.
The objectives of these interviews are to:
- Interest and inspire girls and younger women with information about a range of ICT careers that can be had
- Bring before a broader audience some of the role model women in tech and share information about their career journeys and work
- Offer diverse examples of how ICT is being used to support achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals and other UN goals
- Showcase initiatives that are working with girls to support them in ICT studies or future ICT careers
- Provide girls with a leadership opportunity to represent and promote a tech organization or their school’s support of STEM programs
- Support technology skills’ learning for girls and young women and promote it to a broader international audience.
To identify the girl and young women participants, they reached out to organizations working with girls and ICT with the idea that the girls selected as the interviewers would also have the opportunity to talk about the initiative with which they have been involved and activities they have done in tech. The women are at various stages in their careers and different levels of seniority, work with and in tech in different sectors. During these interviews, the women also asks the girl in tech interviewer questions about her career plans and journey with technology.
My advice for any young women aspiring to get into the tech field is to find mentors, which is easy to say but difficult to do. Finding someone who can learn from, and ask awkward questions is especially important. Especially in tech, when there are barriers that still exist, it is important to create the proper mentoring ecosystem for young women getting into IT.
Kate Krukiel, General Manager for the UN Digital Solutions Centre to Samantha Berenzon, a third–year Computer Information Science student at Baruch College.
UNICC Women participate in girls and women talking tech
Some women staff from UNICC have participated in this on-going virtual event. Business Relationship Manager Emily Bennett, General Manager of the UN Digital Solutions Centre Kate Krukiel and graphic designer Lorena Henriquez have all been part of the first wave of interviews thus far, with other UNICC women also agreeing to be interviewed. Each woman gave their account of their dynamic careers in tech to young women interviewers who were either pursuing degrees in tech or beginning their careers in specific field in tech.
This project will include many inspiring women in tech as available in the coming months, from different fields of tech, discussing various themes about their journey with aspiring young women in tech, pursuing a wonderful array of careers in ICT. Please visit ITU’s EQUALS Global Partnership YouTube channel to view all the past interviews and discussions in the series Girls and Women Talking Tech.