The Women4IT project funded by the Youth Employment Programme of the EEA and Norway Grants, (2018-2021) aims to increase the employability of young women (15 -29 years) in the NEET Group (Not in Education, Employment or Training) in digital technologies and boost the opportunities the female talent brings to economic growth. The project will assess the digital skills of 1000 women in 7 countries (Greece, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Romania and Spain) and provide digital skills training and personalised career guidance to minimum 700 of them, and reach 10 000 youth by digital career awareness activities.
The Irish Computer Society hosted the 30th of October 2020 the first Women4It dissemination conference in Ireland. Due to the COVID-19 pandemics the event was held online with a great deal of success. It was dedicated to the role of women in the tech industry and focused on their representation in the field. The conference was opened by the ICS Secretary General, Mary Cleary and had an international dimension, with an international programme of guest speakers.
The panel discussion of the conference gave an opportunity to Katie Burke -Technical Consultant Hubspot, Gillian Arnold Managing Director at Tectre, Christina Todorova, Researcher at European Software Institute Center Eastern Europe, Grace Lawlor, Research Assistant at Trinity College and Ciara McMahon, Cloud Support Engineer at AWS, to discuss why women struggle to get jobs in the digital sector, what can be done to improve this situation, and how young women themselves have a key role to play in redressing the gender balance.
The Dublin Conference confirmed, that if European tech firms and businesses want to put an end to loosing out on a wide range of talent and diversity and remain competitive on the global stage especially during and after the COVID-19 pandemics, they need to hire women across all levels of management. The WOMEN4IT project desires to be a key reference for upscaling the digital skills of young women all around Europe.
During the final year of the Women4IT project the training of young women according to the needs of the businesses and tech sector will – after Ireland and Latvia – continue in Greece, Lithuania, Malta, Romania and Spain. As stressed by Mary Cleary, ICS General Secretary “The final step will be helping the newly trained women to find employment in the digital sector. However, as the Women4ITjob profiles for Ireland have been designed to address the needs of the IT industry, we are confident, that many organisations will seize the opportunity to appoint a highly motivated and well qualified young woman.”
The Covid-19 situation has highlighted how durable the IT and digital sector is, with many people continuing to work in their jobs in this industry throughout the pandemic. This will encourage young women to consider embarking on the path towards a digital or IT career. Achieving a more equal representation in the tech sector requires, last but not least, businesses and governments working together and women inspiring other women.