UNICC Celebrated International Girls in ICT Day 2024 in its Multiple Office Locations

Empowering Leadership and Diversity in STEM

30 May, 2024

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Celebration of the International Girls in ICT Day at Columbia University, School of Professional Studies Career Design Lab. Photo: UNICC/Ouyang

New York, NY – International Girls in ICT Day is celebrated globally on the fourth Thursday of April every year, aiming to promote inclusivity and diversity in the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) industry. This annual event encourages greater participation of girls and young women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) fields, ultimately benefiting technology companies, academic institutions, economies and societies worldwide.

In collaboration with the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the School of Professional Studies at Columbia University (CU-SPS) and the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), UNICC co-hosted a design-thinking career workshop to mark the occasion. The exercise, facilitated by Dr. Joann Halpern, the Director of the Hasso Plattner Institute, and Mehul Mehta, a Strategy, Innovation and Design Mentor at adplist.org, brought together a diverse group of high school students from Columbia University’s Youth-in-STEM programme and 25 women in science, technology and innovation from various UN organizations, as well as the public and private sectors. UNICC colleagues from New York office shared valuable insights on career development, inspiring the young generations of STEM leaders.

Despite women now comprising 40% of high-skill occupations globally, their representation in ICT-related fields remains disproportionately low. Addressing this disparity, the theme of Girls in ICT Day 2024 focused on leadership development and empowerment. The event emphasized the importance of exposing girls and young women to female role models in STEM to inspire confidence and help them overcome barriers.

UNICC colleagues at the Girls in ICT Day 2024 event. Photo: UNICC

The event commenced with opening remarks by Diane M. Spizzirro, Executive Director of the Career Design Lab at CU-SPS, and Riefqah Jappie, External Relations and UN Affairs at WIPO. Participants were further inspired by a video message from Ms. Doreen Bogdan-Martin, the first women to serve as Secretary-General in the 157-year history of ITU. Dr. Halpern and Mehul Mehta then initiated the design-thinking session with a warm-up exercise, “Stop&Go,” which encouraged creative problem-solving and innovative thinking through practical learning and hands-on experience.

Discussions centered around the concept of leadership and career aspirations in the technology sector, with participants exploring ways to use technology to help young adults make informed career decisions. The workshop concluded with closing remarks by Anusha Dandapani, Chief of Data & AI at UNICC, who emphasized the importance of leading by example and fostering an empathetic mindset.

In addition to events in New York, celebrations took place around the globe. In Valencia, UNICC representatives Elena Rivas Ruzafa, Data Operations Lead, and Paloma Bahilo Alpuente, Robotic Process Automation Associate Engineer, participated in an event at the American School of Valencia, inspiring students and promoting inclusivity in the tech industry. Similarly, in Geneva, Sameer Chauhan, Director of UNICC and International Gender Champion, addressed the barriers facing women and girls in STEM, emphasizing the need for equitable representation and effective strategies to bridge the gender gap.

UNICC representatives at the American School of Valencia for International Girls in ICT Day. Photo: UNICC

International Girls in ICT Day serves as a reminder of the importance of empowering the next generation of women in technology, creating a more inclusive and innovative future for all.

In a world increasingly shaped by technology, we need more women sitting at the table, leading the conversation, and ensuring that we are headed toward a future that reflects the needs and perspectives of all.

Milena Grecuccio, Deputy Director, UNICC