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Huawei is celebrating International Women’s Day today (8 March) by holding a debate on gender equality, diversity and inclusion in the digital technology sector and society as a whole.
The debate, ‘Women in the Digital Era: Unleashing the Potential of Female Talent for a Stronger Europe’, involved MEPs, representatives from European agencies and industry associations, and Huawei executives, and focused on how to get more women into leadership roles in the digital and wider economy.
“It is a fantastic way to celebrate International Women’s Day. I couldn’t think of a better way to do it, so congratulations to Huawei for the initiative,” said keynote speaker Maria da Graça Carvalho MEP, the European Parliament’s Rapporteur for the flagship report on Closing the Digital Gender Gap.
Huawei’s Senior EU Public Affairs Manager Berta Herrero moderated the conference’s two panels, ‘Women’s Participation in Europe’s Recovery’ and ‘Women in Cybersecurity’.
“We are proud to organize these conferences. We are happy to invest our resources in fostering the debate in the cybersecurity and technological fields with respect to equality, diversity and inclusion. Our end goal is to inspire the next generation of women to shape the world of tomorrow, and to build the appropriate foundations for them to be able to do it,” she said.
WHAT THEY SAID DURING THE DEBATE:
Maria da Graça Carvalho, MEP: “We need to make sure that we remove the obstacles for women’s participation in the digital economy. We cannot afford digital to become a new way of discrimination, so we need to act. In Europe, only 18% of the professionals who work in ICT are women. 17% of students in ICT-related subjects are girls. Less than 3% of girls between 6 and 10 years-old want to work in ICT when they grow up. The importance of role models is crucial, that women identify with other women who are successful in careers in ICT.”
Agnieszka Stasiakowska,Senior Business Acceleration Manager, European Commission’s Executive Agency for SMEs: “We need more women in governing boards of companies, we need more women in science, in academia. We need to invest in skills enhancement, in leadership enhancement, in showing those model roles to women, sharing personal stories.”
Branwen Miles, Policy Advisor, COPA/COGECA (the European association of farmers and agri-cooperatives): “Digital tools have the ability to revolutionize the agricultural sector to help and assist farmers in becoming more sustainable, more efficient. This can also be an avenue of economic empowerment for women. Because there’s still this untapped potential that women farmers have which we need to support, to advocate and give them the opportunity to reach this potential.”
Sophie Batas, Huawei’s Director for Cyber Security and Data Privacy in Europe: “Cybersecurity is a very multi-disciplinary sector. It requires various types of profiles and very specific skills, for instance: caring for people, being able to communicate in a precise way swiftly, negotiation skills, a broad understanding of the situation, ability to react quickly, and I think all those skills are naturally embedded in the DNA of women. That’s why we have a growing number of women in cybersecurity. I’m also experiencing it in Huawei and it’s a pleasure to work hand in hand with other women and with men.”
Nina Hasratyan, Policy Manager, European Cyber Security Organisation (ECSO); Operational Coordinator, Women4Cyber Foundation: “We hope that women role models in cybersecurity will inspire the young generations and show them the pool of possibilities. Only 11% of the cybersecurity workforce in the world are women; it’s only 7% in Europe, very disappointing results here. We need to step up a lot. That’s exactly the reason we created Women4Cyber to actually have concrete activities and actions and show concrete results..”
Iva Tasheva, Co-Founder and Cybersecurity Management Lead, CyEn: “If we want society to be inclusive, we also have to have diversity in the design of technological solutions, to take into consideration the interests, shortcomings and issues of the different groups there are. It would work for me as a woman, it would work for everyone eventually, whether it’s language, interests or background that differentiates us.”
Berta Herrero, Senior EU Public Affairs Manager, Huawei: “For the Europe of tomorrow to be a Union of Equals, we need to start building true and full equality at all levels, in all fields, and across all countries and regions.”
“We rise up by lifting others. Change can only happen if society as a whole believes in it. So both men and women need to be part of this fight for equality, for inclusion and for diversity in the digital sphere and beyond.”
AND MEN… ON HOW MEN… CAN BEST SUPPORT THE FIGHT FOR EQUALITY IN THE DIGITAL ERA
Ibán García del Blanco MEP: “It’s a question of attitude. I think men have to become feminists as well, because feminism is not only a question of feelings (or) justice, but even a question of efficiency from the economic perspective.”
Philip Herd, Huawei EU Communications Director:
“It’s a supporting role (that men can play) in many ways, and it may be simple things such as making the workplace more inclusive, less threatening or making the work-life balance better, because it’s a fact that burden of child care, balancing of career and home, generally falls on women more than on men.”