When people talk about the individuals involved in tech, they imagine a group of largely overweight, glasses wearing guys with embarrassing laughs, who are slightly social inept and have a poor sense of humour. However recent trends mark a departure from this stereotype, in that girls are not only beginning to appear in increasing numbers in the tech sector, but they are also making their presence felt!
During April 2015, Cisco, one the world’s leading tech providers and developers, celebrated Girls in ICT Day. To celebrate the event, which occurs each year on the 23rd of the month, the company welcomed thousands of young girls and women into the company.
Much of Cisco’s success can be attributed to the speed with which the company adopts new measures and strategies within the sector. The rise of the tech savvy girl is no exception. To actively encourage the move, Cisco have created their WISE initiative, or Women In Science and Engineering. Kristen Chiala, a spokeswoman for Cisco, announced that the move was an effort to demonstrate that Cisco is “here to help show support around technology and technology around women”.
Chiala, was not only present at the event, she was also leading a session of her own. The session was centred on “Hackathon”, also known as “Hackfest” and “Codefest”. It is an event where software and hardware developers are brought together in order to collaborate on a range of software developments. Chiala’s session focussed on how to organise a Hackathon event and also encouraging techniques to help young women to win at these events. The reason she presented for her choice was that “they do have awesome prizes”.
When asked to comment on the educational purpose of the event, Chiala stated, “All I would say is just take away from this conference, or rather, unconference, is the idea of this concept that we are just doing everything on the fly, that's actually a great way, again, for young girls to show them, you can always begin to learn on the very first day”. The event aims to raise awareness for STEM, Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, and to encourage female participation in it.
Ever a company to practise what they preach, Cisco have a number of women in their current leadership structure, across a number of disciplines. To demonstrate the company has a number of Senior VPs who are female, including Blair Christie, Fran Katsoudas and Karen Walker.