The theme of this year's International Women's Day is #BalanceforBetter, and the organization running this global celebration will be emphasizing the idea of balance driving a better world.
"Balance is not a women's issue, it's a business issue," the organization says, adding "The race is on for the gender-balanced boardroom, a gender-balanced government, gender-balanced media coverage, a gender-balance of employees, more gender-balance in wealth, gender-balanced sports coverage ...gender balance is essential for economies and communities to thrive."
We checked in with some of the top women executives in the technology world, to get their thoughts on how we can continue to support everything from education and awareness, to providing educational and mentorship opportunities to girls, to fundamental changes to how large corporations ensure representation in the boardroom and beyond.
We've also asked Tymirra Smith, a college senior who has been working in robotics throughout her middle school, high school and college years, to provide some perspective from the next generation.
Here are their thoughts.
Delia J. Smith
Chief Strategy Officer, Dispersive Networks, Inc
“I advise all females to learn that math is your friend. Numbers underpin most of the technical fields and math is key to understanding profit and loss statements. Knowing how to read one is an essential skill if you want to run a business. Girls and women to learn to ask three really important questions: Why? How? and Why Not? With these as your guide, you’ll expose and identify problems and create the solutions that address them. Finally, I encourage women to learn to self-advocate. The saying, ‘If you don’t toot your own horn, no one will,’ exists for a reason.”
SVP Global Marketing, Ribbon Communications
"The opportunities for women to participate in the vibrant and growing world of technology are limitless. New doors are opening every day, and by investing in STEM programs, especially those designed to include girls and young women, we improve their chances to pursue careers globally. Given the impact technology and networking has on the ability for us to all connect, communicate and collaborate, it is especially fulfilling to be part of several organizations dedicated to supporting women in tech, and on this 109th anniversary of International Women’s Day, let's continue to explore ways to use technologies to serve girls, women and their families and communities.”
Founder and Storyteller in Chief at IVOW
"We live in an era where social robots are tweeting, and big data and AI are being integrated into just about every aspect of our lives. So, let's find ways to make all this accessible and relevant to millions of young girls around the world who want to be part of this pivotal time in human history. Let's find ways to encourage them to inform this future and to be tech producers - not as a money-making venture but as a way to enrich their lives, build their careers and give back to their communities.”
VP, Global Marketing, Channels and Sales Strategy at Radisys Corporation
“The telecom industry is undergoing a transformation as there is a seismic shift in how networks are being built. We need to see a corresponding shift in who is building these networks of the future and encourage more women to enter the field. We need to be able to tap into a new way of thinking which means tapping into 50% of the available workforce that is underrepresented – women – and bring more new ideas and more new diverse perspectives. Establishing gender balance in the industry and encouraging more women to seek senior positions will be crucial to our ability to drive the industry forward. At the same time, we need to make it easier for both men and women to support family options while pursuing full careers so that women can stay in the workforce and achieve all of their potentials.
Young women today have more access to technology than at any time in our history, and technology is already a way of life. We now need to encourage technology as an attractive career option. At the same time, young women are more socially conscious, more culturally aware and bolder than many people I know. They want to make the world a better place. I see this in my own daughters. We need to combine their interest in tech with making a difference while providing mentorship.
It takes boldness to create a diverse group of voices and gathering knowledge from others around us, but I believe it can push the telecommunications sector out of its comfort zones and bring new ways of looking at challenges. I’m encouraged by the number of women I see who are leading the way to establish diverse teams to produce truly diverse perspectives and ideas.”
Founder and CEO, MBODY360
"I am so blessed to be born here, in this country, in this time period, where I have my own autonomy. I have an education, I have bought my own apartment, I drive a car, I have my own bank accounts, career, started my own company, work with men, supervise men . . . not that we don’t have a ways to go. But how blessed are we compared to the rest of the world’s women. And really, how that shouldn’t be a blessing, but a given for all women. And how that blessing is really a responsibility to work for justice and equal world."
Founder and CEO at ARL Strategic Communications
"In honor of International Women’s Day, we celebrate the power in diversity and the women who worked to pave the way for equality. As a woman with a career in tech, one of the hottest industries, I am an advocate and supporter for strengthening the workforce and carving a path for future female leaders. Now, more than ever, women are needed in technology. It is critical to the future of the industry. Let’s work together, support one another, and inspire girls to join the IT movement."
Prior COO of the MPAA and Global Exec at the intersection of Technology, Engagement, and Social Good
“Where ‘beauty is in the eye of the beholder,’ #balanceforbetter cannot be ---this must be seen and acted upon through the eyes of everyone. I have worked alongside incredible leaders who have not only believed in women but purposefully added our talent to the CSuite and boardroom and most importantly incorporated it into strategic discussions. You can't have a successful organizational strategy that doesn't include insights and input from 50% of the workforce, let alone represents the buying power and influence that we have. While we're making great progress, we must keep our voices and the conversation for #balanceforbetter strong.”
Co-Founder and COO Venture Smarter
“We need to shift our focus to supporting and empowering women in technology. As cities and regions become more tech-enabled, it is vital for women to have a stake in implementing these very technologies that will contribute to bettering their workplaces, communities, and cities. From creating safer public transportation systems to improving basic infrastructure, women need to be equally represented at every level to ensure that their voices can be heard and to pave the way for a better future for all."
College Senior, Georgia Institute of Technology
“Throughout my college years, I have mentored high school robotics teams. This past year I began mentoring an all-girls team comprised of both high schoolers and middle schoolers, and I must say that this experience has been my most rewarding mentorship experience thus far. It has been an amazing experience seeing what young girls can do in the STEM field when they are given the room to learn and grow in a supportive environment. Giving young girls opportunities like this to explore STEM without the pressure of fighting with their male counterparts for a chance to participate and have their ideas heard sets them up to be more confident when they go into the real world and face these challenges on the daily. Not only that but these all-girl programs serve as an inspiration to our current leaders to continue fighting towards a gender-balanced world, so that more girls grow into the leaders that they are meant to be. Girl-centered STEM programs such as Girls Who Code and WIT (Women in Information Technology) are key to creating gender balance in technology careers for the future generation and beyond.”
Collective action and shared responsibility for driving a gender-balanced world are key, according to the organizers of International Women's Day, a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women - while also marking a call to action for accelerating gender balance.
The first International Women's Day occurred in 1911!
At that time, it was supported by over one million people.
Today hundreds of millions of women are celebrating as this movement continues to grow.
Gloria Steinem, world-renowned feminist, journalist, and activist once explained: "The story of women's struggle for equality belongs to no single feminist nor to any one organisation but to the collective efforts of all who care about human rights."
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