On February 4th, Data News proudly announced the Young ICT Lady of the year 2021 during the yearly She Goes ICT event. I’m one of those people who eagerly look out to this event. Yet every year the question “Do we really need such award” sounds louder. The question resonates especially when talking about women in tech as well as in the broader debate about diversity. Weekend Knack even finds it necessary today to devote their homepage to the topic: they selected 110 women to promote the legitimacy of International Women’s Day. In other words: all of the candidates for the title of “Young ICT Lady of the Year” are activists in a battle that has been fought in many heads, where the reality shows there’s still a long way to go.
Why is She Goes ICT still relevant?
To ask the question is to answer it. Even people working in the ICT sector don’t know their numbers. During the She Goes ICT award event, Kristof Van der Stadt quizzed the audience for the Male/Female ratio in their sector. The actual numbers showed that the ratio of women is at 17%. And only 40% of the audience could answer this question. That goes to show that even participants in the She Goes ICT event who are aware of the problem are struggling with it.
Fortunately, there’s some good news too: the STEM platform (Numbers: STEM-Monitor 2020) reported last summer to have achieved their goal: the number of girls in the first year of the third grade peaked with 51% girls in STEM-related fields. After the third grade however, the numbers plummet. In the academic bachelor, the number of women in STEM is reduced to 40,97%. If we align the definition of ‘STEM’ with that of other European countries, the Benelux is even reporting the lowest numbers in the STEM monitor. And when taking a look at ICT in higher education, the numbers drop even further, coming close to only 10% women.
From the corporate point of view, the need for more women in ICT needs no additional plea: 2 out of 3 companies struggle to staff vacancies with specific ICT skills.
GUTS wanted (M/F/X)
The credo Choose your battels wisely is well known. Both the nominees and the winners of She Goes ICT chose very conscientiously to take up this challenge. It is going to be long and slow process with a social scope. A true battle. That makes She Goes ICT a breeding ground for women who know what they represent.
Women who want to focus on socially relevant themes and who conquer any obstacle on their track. She Goes ICT rightfully places the spotlight on them as role models. It shouldn’t stop there. What we can do, other than to honor them, is to expand the impact of She Goes ICT. Let’s all engage to promote diversity and inclusion. All, that means you and me, dear reader. And yes, I am well aware that this piece will be read by men mostly. Fortunately “guts wanted (M/F/X)” is an inclusive vacancy.