Τhe European Focus Conference ‘Women Choosing ICT Careers: Influencing Policy from Practice’ held on Tuesday, 26th of October 2010 in Athens bringing the gender-IT project to an end succeeded in attracting significant stakeholders and raising awareness on the need to act in a coordinated and committed way in order to encourage women participation in ICT careers.
The gender-IT project involved 7 partners from Cyprus, Greece, UK, Estonia, Spain & Sweden.
MAIN CONCLUSIONS/ RECOMMENDATIONS / PROPOSALS
1. Eva FABRY (ECWT-European Center for Women in Technology)
What is the issue/problem? To ensure that e-skills solutions offered in universities and ACE have the credibility and standing to accurately validate the knowledge required for the ICT-embedded economy and society at large. This is only achieved with the participation of and a dialog with industry, academia and all relevant stakeholders participation in the entire process.
ECWT desires to take the lead on coordinating EU level actions to bring about Gender Mainstreaming in ICT, technology and innovation to contribute to the Future of Work in Europe. This means:
Relevant policies decided, accepted, and IMPLEMENTED at all political levels - EU, Member State, region, city, organization:
- to attract BOTH women and men to technology
- to provide eSkills for all
- to ensure gender mainstreaming in VET for the ICT sector
- to overcome the technology gender gap (e.g. mentoring, awareness, best practice dissemination)
- to ensure gender balance in leadership positions in industry and academia
- to ensure gender balance on governing boards
- to encourage female entrepreneurship
- Gender Dimension as Driver of Science Innovation and Excellence in 21st Century (genSET)
- to ensure the gender dimension in innovation
- to ensure friendly labour market policies (e.g. equal pay, child care, flexible working conditions
- to provide current, disaggregated statistics (Eurostat, industry etc.)
Coordinated commitment and support are essential:
- EC: in policies and funding programmes of relevant DGs - INFSO (Digital Agenda and ICT), ENTR, EAC, EMPL, RTD, REGIO, Eurostat etc.
- EP: in all relevant committees
- Member States: in national, regional and local policies and projects
- In industrial and academic decisions and project
You can make a difference by working with your stakeholders NOW so that we can together make sure that this happens!
2. Dr. Soula LOUCA (Associate Professor of the University of Nicosia, Cyprus)
Educate women at any stage on what the field is all about; to raise awareness about the diverse careers and the opportunities offered by ICT
Set quota; Convince the state for 40-60 in all technical boards;
ICT should be part of the core curriculum starting in elementary schools and utilize it as a tool for learning;
Provide the necessary infrastructure in schools;
Provide flexible working conditions surrounding ICT;
Provide job shadowing/summer internships for university students;
Implementation and exploitation of the research through innovation and incentives;
Allow workers to be involved with innovation;
The gender inequality in the field of IT will not be self-regulated;
A set of active policies is needed to correct it. Both men and women should strive for proper implementation;
Important for us women to understand the importance of and participate in shaping the policy itself to new technologies and the Information Society due to the large dimension of the gender issues to ICT policy and more;
Support from the friendly and familiar environment.
3. Louise NORMAN (European Project Manager at Inova Consultancy Ltd., UK partner in the Gender IT project)
The objective of the EC co-funded project entitled gender-IT is to build a network at a European level which will actively foster gender mainstreaming in VET for the ICT sector.
Training for career guidance practitioners and ICT trainers;
Up-to date information about the range of ICT careers and what they can offer;
Dispel ideas of traditional ICT careers;
Outreach programmes, including female role models;
Tackle stereotypes (both of gender roles and ICT); and achieve media exposure;
There is little or no role models for women in ICT in the media;
Flexibility in the requirements of ICT training courses, in order to make them relevant to girls’ and women’s lives;
Allow ICT trainers flexibility and creativity to match course content to learner’s needs and interests;
Women use proportionally more social networking software then men;
Make ICT relevant to daily life, e.g. iPods, blogs, software in common use.
4. Dr. Panagiotis KARAMBELAS, (Assistant Professor of Information Technology, Hellenic American University, NH)
Coordinated action from different stakeholders needed:
- Employers: mentors, flexible training, concrete career pathways, etc.
- Colleagues: team building, parallel advancement, learning communities, etc.
- Governments: identify the issue, monitor job statistics, support IT jobs, etc.
- Educators: flexible programs, change of perception, enrich curricula with technical skills
- Family: encourage independency, change toy stereotypes, etc.
- Women by themselves: be educated, understand innovation and creativity behind IT, etc.
5. Angelina MICHAELIDIS (President of IAGME, the Women’s Organisation of Managers & Entrepreneurs, Hellenic Management Association)
Get an ICT Business Plan:
- Goal: professional success, make a family
- Product/services: Prof. excellence in commercial roles, technical ability, produce more.
- Resources/budget: stay with big firms, organize your back-up services
- Timeframe: make grids and set priorities, 20-30, 30-40, 40-50+
- Coach yourself, monitor progress, make decisions!
- Set priorities: PhD or new assignment, breast feeding or meeting?
- Make choices: Location of home, level of compensation
- Avoid missteps
- Conflict IS an opportunity to fine tune, to change, to reposition or to stick!
6. Ioanna FERGADIOTOU (Training Manager at Vocational Training S.A.)
Enhancing Career Planning:
- Increase learning opportunities for new ICT skills and applications
- Make training a core function of the enterprise
- Develop both HRMS and policies
- Allow interaction between ICT professionals
- Mix learning methods-blended learning
Conference moderator Irene Kamberidou, Assistant Professor of the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens
Encouraging more women and girls to take up ICT, retaining them in the sector and reproducing female participation requires working together to support an “Education-Engagement-Retention Action Plan” (Kamberidou 2008) that entails:
(1) Support of multicultural interdisciplinary gender research networks and collaborative actions that address the three major gender gaps:(a) the gender participation/engagement gap, (b) the pay gap and the (c) advancement-leadership gap
(2) Support of multicultural interdisciplinary gender research to influences mainstream developments in science and technology from a gender perspective, including a better balance of gendered content to change attitudes, perceptions and stereotypes.
(3) Interdisciplinarity in education and research in order to formulate new pedagogical methods and approaches that incorporate the gender dimension. Education-training and engagement for teachers and children means extra-curricula approaches, new classroom examples and best practice models. Educating the educators, re-training the trainers: learning, continued training and re-training.
(4) Participation in areas of planning, management, assessment and organization.
(5) Family support programmes, flexi-hours, a family-friendly working environment, child care facilities, namely an inclusive work culture.
(6) The establishment of an attractive open labour market that recruits and retains women.
(7) Gender networking, alliances with women, sharing, mentoring and supporting younger female colleagues in order to eliminate “gender fatigue” (Kamberidou 2010) and encourage women to take a more active role (agency), to keep up with developments, to share information, etc.
(8) Social mobility in the structure, i.e. learning the system and how to use it in order to make changes.
(9) Best-practice models and mentoring projects: the involvement of professional women (Leaders) already employed in science and technology, the academia, research sectors.
(10) Raising the profile of our role models and female leaders as well as the diversity of careers available.
We need to inspire women into technology with innovative and different approaches such as the European Commission’s shadowing activities (http://ec.europa.eu/itgirls, mentoring programs and so forth.
We need to all join forces and work together to accomplish this through the platforms:
- ECWT –the European Centre for Women and Technology (www.womenandtechnology.eu) and
- the virtual Meeting-place for Women in ICT- the European Directory for Women and ICT - EUD www.ictwomendirectory.eu) .