On the 26th of November 2020, CEPIS (Council of European Professional Informatics Societies) hosted the online launch event of the DiversIT Charter, aiming to promote and advance gender equality in the technology sector. The event gathered stakeholders from European institutions, industry, and the public and non-profit sector, and focused on the challenges and opportunities related to the gender gap in ICT professions.
After the welcoming words of Byron Nicolaides (President of CEPIS), Snejina Petrova (Member of the Cabinet of Commissioner Mariya Gabriel) stressed the importance of boosting women in digital. MEP Evelyn Regner, Chair of the European Parliament´s FEMM Committee, then informed about key European initiatives.
Speakers at the event included Cecilia Bonefeld-Dahl (Director-General, DIGITALEUROPE), an active member of the Digital Skills and Jobs Coalition, who pointed out how important it is that we have women involved in the digital industry; issues like bias in AI systems need women to resolve them as development teams continue to be male-dominated, and this can have potentially very negative consequences as the AI then cannot always account for women´s issues or voices. Cecilia further went on to illustrate how underrepresented women are in tech, by indicating that in the largest listed companies in the EU28, only 7.7% of CEOs are women. In fact, in many countries it was recorded that less than half of employees would be comfortable with a woman as their CEO. Greater recognition of the skills of women is therefore needed for there to be equality across the sector.
Ms. Bonefeld-Dahl pointed out the relevance of DIGITALEUROPE´s manifesto, which emphasises the importance of digital skills and connectivity, and in particular how the €750bn EU recovery fund needs to prioritise upskilling of the European workforce and job seekers as well as reforming education with investments to improve the teaching of technology in schools. With this, younger generations will be better prepared for the future job landscape.
The panel discussion, moderated by Saskia van Uffelen (Corporate Vice President of INETUM), presented best practices in the retention and attraction of women into ICT roles implemented at SAP (presented by Vice President Christina Regitz), AXA (CEO Jef van In), Novartis (Valeria de Flaviis, Head of Innovative Models) and Vodafone Turkey (Kayas Sevil Yilmaz, Head of Talent Strategy).
Eva Fabry, Director of the European Centre for Women and Technology, highlighted the pioneering role of the Women4IT project financed by the EEA and Norway Grants in targeting the NEET Group and the age group 19 to 29 in Europe. During the first two years, 9 partners from 7 countries led by LIKTA have assessed the digital skills of around 2000 women, and at the end of September they started the digital skills training for 750+ women in 8 digital job profiles identified in collaboration with future employers and supported by personalised career guidance and mentoring. The project also plans to launch a Women4IT Employability Award in 2021.
The first CEPIS member society to officially adopt the DiversIT Charter is the Turkish Computer Society (IAT), having received bronze-tier recognition for their roadmap and structured programme of activities that organisations can take to establish a supporting environment for Women in IT professions.
Find out more about the DiversIT Charter or join here
Watch the full speech here
Watch the panel discussion here