Student experience: Girls and Women Talking Tech

30 March 2021

As part of the Cybersecurity module several MSc Management of Information Systems & Digital Innovation students were invited to participate in the Talking Tech: Girls and Women in ICT series.

Talking Tech is an intergenerational interview series where girls and young women aspiring for a career in the technology sector get a chance to interview women in technology who are role models, leaders or further on in their careers. The project is in support of Girls in ICT Day 2020-2022 and of the EQUALS Global Partnership for Gender Equality in the Digital Age. The Talking Tech initiative is run by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) Liaison Office at the United Nations (UN) in New York, UN ICC, ITU Americas and the Office of the UN Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth.

Launched in 2016 by the ITU and four founding partners – GSMA, the International Trade Centre, the United Nations University and UN Women – EQUALS contributes to the UN Sustainable Development Agenda through actions and evidence-based research aimed at closing the global gender digital divide. Now made up of more than 100 partners, EQUALS aims to promote gender equality in technology access, skills and leadership, as well as conducting evidence-based research.

International Girls in ICT Day seeks to create a global environment that empowers and encourages girls and young women to consider studies and careers in the growing field of ICTs. Stakeholders from all sectors are encouraged to undertake activities on and/or around the Day, which is celebrated on the fourth Thursday in April each year, to support its objectives. Over its 10 years, hundreds of thousands of girls have been involved in over 11,000 related programs, trainings, workshops and other activities in more than 170 countries.

Dr Isabel Fischer, module leader and Associate Professor of Information Systems and Management, and Andrea Ong, MSc Management of Information Systems & Digital Innovation student, share their thoughts on the experience.

What was the value of including this initiative as part of the Cybersecurity module?

Isabel:  Women represent less than a quarter of staff in tech roles in the leading tech firms. To reduce this gap, we need to inspire young female students across all ethnicities to envisage a career in tech roles.

Andrea: Women’s involvement in technology has always been a cause close to my heart; and it was amazing to see one of our own professors, Isabel Fischer, driving women empowerment– not only within the four walls of Warwick Business School but connecting us to external communities such as an organisation that is part of the United Nations to create impact. So, I jumped at the first opportunity to be involved in this project!

What opportunities did this provide?

Isabel: Interviewing female role models in IT provided an opportunity for our students to hear how others have succeeded in the past. Students commented how it boosted their confidence in pursuing a career in IT and how they felt empowered to take on challenges. Of course, closing the gender digital skills divide requires more than the interviews and Warwick therefore also works on other initiatives, for example as part of our wider community outreach programme.

Andrea: It was a very special experience because I got to share the stage with Sue Newell; an outstanding professor who not only ranks in the top 2% of scientists in the world but is also one of my professors that taught me a great deal of managing technology with a purpose. Regardless of gender, I do hope this inspires WBS students to put their knowledge into practice by seizing new opportunities every day to create a lasting impact in the world we live in.

Some of the EQUALS interviews by WBS students can be seen here:

Rebeca Kusma / Kay Firth-Butterfield - discussing AI in Healthcare as well as the importance of diverse teams and inclusion in developing artificial intelligence.

Afoma Ukah / Maria Axente – including a discussion on multiple-jeopardies when changing to a different job in different countries, especially when bridging economic divides.

Andrea Ong / Professor Sue Newell - considering unintended consequences of digital innovations.

Karina Bibatyreva / Hoda Nasseri – on developing curiosity, speaking up and believing in your abilities.

Nazerke Moldakyn / Paula Felstead – technical roles and the need for creativity.

Oseremen Ibhawoh / Torgyn Erland - dare to ask questions.

Sarah Park / Temitope Ilori Odunaiya - translating imbalances into a position of strength.

Eleanor Chung / Melissa Sassi - data privacy as a human right and building digital skills

To watch other Talking Tech interviews and follow the updates please visit the Girls in ICT Day YouTube playlist.

To discover more about the MSc Management of Information Systems & Digital Innovation course and the opportunities it offers our students, visit our course webpages.