Actions to support women in ICT

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As a lobbyist at the European Parliament at the ITRE committee I contribute with draft proposals.
Abstract: In a few years there will be a shortage of 1 million employable ICT people in the EU-zone.
Therefore, it is not viable for Europe to not make an effort to increase the number of women in ICT
since they are 50 % of the work force. To achieve this aim, it is necessary for EU and its partners to
sponsor activities that increases women to pursue a career in ICT. Examples on these are sponsoring
business incubators and creating employment pools.

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Actions to support women in ICT

  1. 1. Jan Softa CEO of Somerco Research Ltd Enhance EC member states competitiveness in R & D - Part 3: Actions to support women in ICT Abstract: In a few years there will be a shortage of 1 million employable ICT people in the EU-zone. Therefore, it is not viable for Europe to not make an effort to increase the number of women in ICT since they are 50 % of the work force. To achieve this aim, it is necessary for EU and its partners to sponsor activities that increases women to pursue a career in ICT. Examples on these are sponsoring business incubators and creating employment pools. Introduction Helping geniuses! Our slogan sums up who Somerco aims to help. Somerco are a company that target to help researchers and innovators so that these geniuses can create prosperity and jobs in society. In order to achieve this aim, it is important to also help governmental officials in international and national governmental agencies as well as professional networks. In this paper, I discuss a couple of actions that will support women in ICT. The topics discussed are cooperation, making contact, employment pools, sponsoring and organisation. Background In the hearing on women in ICT it was concluded it is not viable for Europe to not make an effort to increase the number of women in ICT since they are 50 % of the work force. In particular, since in a few years there will be a shortage of 1 million employable people in the ICT sector. It was mentioned that in secondary school young women are interested in ICT. However, very few of these women choose to study computer sciences at university. Therefore, it is important to have and support role models in order to increase women’s interest for a future career in ICT. I also discuss the importance of targeting women in the middle of their career and to get them interested in making a career change into the ICT sector. It has many advantages to target this group since they understand what is expected of them in a work place. Perhaps it is these women who will become the sought after role models.1 Cooperation EU already has important contacts with women networks in ICT who provide industry knowledge. These networks will function as a hub for increasing women in ICT. Both EU and these networks are cooperating and should increase its cooperation with the private sector. The obvious reason is that these ICT companies will be women’s future employers. Therefore, it is important to get on board as many large companies as possible such as Deutsche Telekom, Intel and Polkomtel, but just as important is to get SMEs in ICT on board because they are the largest growth sector in ICT. Moreover, computer programmers are hired in many other sectors such as the finance sector, governmental agencies and the chemical industry. Therefore, cooperation is also important with the employers in these sectors. All these different types of companies should be targeted by EU and the women networks in order to have a 1 Women in ICT in the developing world will be discussed in part 4 of Enhance EC member states competitiveness in R & D.
  2. 2. Jan Softa CEO of Somerco Research Ltd broad partnership base. Besides this, the company partners can all contribute with knowledge or sponsoring. Make contact There are multiple ways for EU and its partners to communicate a message to both young women and women in the middle of their careers. It is important to use the right forum for each group. Some of the more traditional ones include career fairs and professional networks. Other forums I want to point out are the use of social media, business incubators and sponsoring of spare-time activities such as sport and art. Career fairs – When EU and its partners participate at career fairs you are in contact with women who are actively seeking new career opportunities. Therefore, to participate at career fairs are important in order to help women in ICT. It is also an opportunity to plant a seed in the women not yet in this sector by discussing what opportunities there are in ICT. Professional networks – It is important for EU to cooperate and use professional networks for women in ICT, such as WITEC, because of their high competence in the field. These groups will lobby with companies, arrange and meet potential young women in school and at universities. I also believe it would be beneficial if these professional networks figured out what other types of networks women are part of in order to ask to come and meet them and present how it is to work in the ICT sector. Social media – Nowadays, social media is a part of almost every young woman’s daily life and also to increasing extent women in the middle of their career. To use these tools are essential when it concern communicating to young women. I suggest that women who have a large following on blogs and twitter are contacted in order to ask if it is possible to send them information that is easy for them to spread in this format. Meaning women with a large following on twitter should get info from EU that does not have more than 140 characters so it instantly can be used on twitter. For blogs you send a little more info because this format allows more than 140 characters. It is important to support the women who are writing about science, innovation and ICT. However, contact also other women who focus on other topics such as fashion, music and other art or who write about their daily life. After all, the purpose is to reach into a new audience. Other Internet sites that can be used are Justin.tv and Ustream where you can live stream events for free and it is also fairly easy to integrate their TV solutions into your own website. Youtube and Vimeo are good for putting up information videos. Social networks that could be used are Xing, Viadeo, Myspace or Facebook. Business incubator – I believe that business incubators can play an important role when it concern getting women interested in commercializing their ideas into web applications, to start-up a software company or develop the ones they have. If EU and their future partners can allocate money that enables business incubators to meet women that currently are interested in commercializing ideas in ICT it would boost economy and also create role models. Great business ideas you find everywhere so to have a wide focus on women in secondary school, universities, those already in ICT companies and outside of ICT companies are beneficial. Spare-time activities – To sponsor spare-time activities are in particular suitable for contacting women in the middle of their career. Many women in the middle of their career have children and to sponsor their children’s science interest, sport or art activities gives EU and its partners access to them in a new forum. As an example: Why not sponsor their children’s football team and in return get the option to meet the parents when they play a match? Another option could be to hand out information
  3. 3. Jan Softa CEO of Somerco Research Ltd about ICT companies during their children’s music concerts and theatre plays. This contact forum has the advantage to embrace both women in ICT and those currently outside of this sector. Employment pools. When these women been contacted and have decided to pursue a career in ICT it should be easy for women networks to keep-in touch with them in order to give support. Therefore, I believe it will benefit many to set-up employment pools with women interested in working in the ICT field. These can be divided into an employee/manager pool and an executive pool. The employee/manager pool can to start with have a more national approach, while the executive pool could be more international. The employee/manager pool is for those women with a sufficient knowledge of computer programming and those who are currently in the programs and courses EU sponsors. The executive pool should consist of suitable women candidates with different professionals backgrounds that would fit into ICT companies’ boards, as potential CTOs, CFOs, CIOs or CEOs. When it concern this pool it is important to remember that the requirements are different depending on what size the company are operating in. It should mean many women qualify for this pool. Also relevant is what target group the ICT companies have – does the company have its market with industry or private consumers. An example: A women who have worked in the finance sector in an executive role could be a suitable candidate as a CFO or CEO for an ICT company especially if the companies’ customers are in the finance sector. I think an employment pool could develop into a service that would be well received by both women who want to have a career in ICT, headhunters and their future employers. Sponsoring Besides giving funding, EUs contacts with national ministries and agencies are an important factor for EU to have a leading role. By being involved and lifting the issue to the forefront it gives weight to the importance of sponsoring this cause. The sponsoring efforts could be divided into (a) making contact, (b) supporting business incubators, (c) have interns at ICT companies and (d) to help in education. Above I have already discussed how EU and its partners could make contact with women more in detail so I briefly mention that sufficient funds need to be allocated for those people who have this as their work task. To give sponsoring to business incubators is a way to increase women in the business side of running ICT companies. The European Business and Innovation Centre Network can work as an instrument that enthusiasm woman with business ideas in ICT by giving advice and support to them. As mentioned, EU have connections with important potential partners such as UKs Department for Business Innovation and Skills and the international Innova. EU can work to affect these in this cause. They can in their turn work with other business incubators with the same objective to get women interested in commercializing their ICT ideas. The business incubators should actively seek women already in ICT, at secondary school and universities in order to discuss the business side of running ICT companies. Beside, sponsoring business incubators I believe it would be beneficial to sponsor women interns at large and small ICT companies. Especially for SMEs it will be a valuable financial support and experience.
  4. 4. Jan Softa CEO of Somerco Research Ltd To increase the number of women computer programmers does not necessarily mean they need to enter university or be taught by computer teachers at school. Another option is to use the private sector. There is the traditional approach to sponsor courses run by ICT companies such as IBM. These courses are suitable for women who have progressed a bit into their computer programming career. Another option is to sponsor spare-time workers for those people who currently work in ICT companies such as Nokia, Telekom Italia, Xing, Cisco, Adobe, Facebook, internet security companies like AVG and Norton. These people have both up to date knowledge and can teach women who want to pursue a career in ICT. To offer sponsoring of internship, let private companies offer their ICT courses and to get the workers in these companies to do spare-time work will give knowledge about these companies’ products and services that are used by clients on the market. A bonus is that they get a reference in the industry. A benefit with these approaches it is more likely they either become employed by these companies or start their own companies with knowledge of these services and products. All these efforts should be available to give women in different stages of their career. Young women in secondary school who are interested in ICT, women at universities who major in computer science, but also those who study subjects such as physics, math or art and finally women in the middle of their career who are interested in a career change can prove to become a hit. Organisation EU has already contacts with nation’s ministries, their governmental agencies and networks that can be used for channelling funding into these nations. When it concerns EUs cooperation with the private sector another organisational solution can be used. I believe it is beneficial to use charity organisations in order to collect funding from the private sector. It is unclear to me whether EUs regulations enables EU its selves to run charity organisations. Otherwise they should map out what suitable charity organizations there are for this purpose and officially back them. In many countries, there are tax benefits that are favourable for companies who donate money. This type of organisational solution makes it possible to give larger donations. Another benefit is it becomes easier for more companies than the large to contribute. Often SMEs are in-facto profitable but most of their profit goes to re-investments for their expansion. Compared to large companies it is more difficult for them to donate money if it cannot benefit their overall business.

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