International Girls in ICT Day is held worldwide each year to encourage girls and young women to consider careers in the growing field of information and communication technologies (ICTs). At EQUALS, we believe every day should be Girls in ICT Day! To show why we're passionate about the event, here’s a post from Nayeon Park, Communications Aide at the United Nations International Computer Center. She participated in a 2018 Girls in ICT Day event in New York City and shared her experiences with us.
This year, a Girls in ICT Day event was held in New York City at Microsoft Technology Center on 25 April. Organizers included the International Computing Center, International Telecommunications Union, UNICEF, World Intellectual Property Organization, UN Women, Build n Blaze and the New York City Mayor’s Office. The event brought together 20 students from the Brooklyn Science and Engineering Academy and 20 women in tech from UN agencies, NGOs and the private sector. It was extremely exciting to get the chance to be involved in this movement toward greater gender equality in a traditionally male-dominated profession.
The event started with opening remarks from the event organizers. After the greetings, the invited professionals took turns introducing themselves. Each woman discussed her personal career and passion for ICT, while giving advice to students and exchanging views on a more inclusive future… one with full digital gender equality.
International Girls in ICT Day at Microsoft Technology Center in New York City, 25 April 2018.
(Photo provided by Nayeon Park)
Advice and ideas from all 20 professionals helped inspire and shape the high school girls’ interests. Girls were encouraged to be bold, curious, confident and forward looking. We all highlighted the equal opportunity for both genders in the ICT sector within the private, public and educational sectors as well as the role of international organizations encouraging women with tech skills to be more confident in their abilities.
Students also joined the discussion. It was genuinely impressive to witness that girls in their early teens were brave enough to stand up in this warm but intense atmosphere, ready to prove that they can be as outstanding as men.
I saw on that day a bright future for ICT, with so many strong-willed young women. Students enjoyed sharing their ideas and project plans, playing with tech solutions and presenting them to the assembled group. It was fantastic! Many even saw technology as a way to solve certain international issues, such as poverty and climate change.
After the break, each student was matched with a professional. Each group was asked to choose one of two visualization activities: drawing to describe a career in the ICT sector, or making a poster or slogan to encourage more girls to pursue a career in technology.
I teamed up with Kayla McCoy (7th grade). Kayla is interested in poverty and climate change issues. She seemed confident in her math and science studies. She said the “Introduction to Programming Code” class she took in 6th grade changed her life completely, and she is looking forward to building her own website. I briefly took her through the process of how I developed a website for the UN, from start to finish.
We later had a chance to make a presentation in front of everyone. Kayla and I agreed that a word itself can wield considerable influence, so we wrote encouraging words such as inspire, empowerment, brave, and confidence in order to help encourage girls’ participation in pursuing a career focused on ICTs. We also drew a girl entering an open door that says ICT to convey a message that women will be greatly welcomed into ICT industries.
Student Kayla McCoy and mentor Nayeon Park at International Girls in ICT Day in New York City, 25 April 2018. (Photo provided by Nayeon Park)
I believe that this year’s International Girls in ICT Day in New York gave a precious chance for youth to meet their female role models in person and get inspired to challenge themselves to build their dreams. Students developed a better understanding of the array of professions available and the different pathways leading to success. They were able to settle themselves down, be more confident, proud and interested in studying science, technology, engineering, arts and math (STEAM). I think the event successfully delivered the profound message that women have equal opportunities to work in the ICT industry.
I am glad I can now be a mentor for a new generation of women in technology. I believe technology has the potential to make the world more inclusive, and I was pleased to see that the other attendees held the same views as me. Tech is for everyone, and it opens up a huge array of exciting careers.
Nayeon Park is Communications Aide at the United Nations International Computer Centre