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Women In Tech 23 April 2015

Unsolicited Advice: How to Be a Fearless Girl In ICT

Lia Kiessling
By Lia KiesslingSenior Director, Strategic Communications

Growing up, I wasn’t what you’d call a typical kid destined for a career in ICT (that stands for Information and Communications Technology. Yep, I had to Google it).

I was one of those kids that always knew what I wanted. I was captivated with radio and just wanted to spend my days working to gather up tidbits of people’s lives. Storytelling was in my blood.

I – being the stubborn person that I am – went ahead and did just that. I brought my love of storytelling to public and college radio, then over to the world I’m in today: as a defender of the open Internet and all the good it brings to my life.

Which Brings Me To Today

Yesterday I spent my afternoon at the very fabulous International Girls in ICT Day event at the International Telecommunications Union.

I was honored to speak with girls from across Geneva in as the kind of person I’ve never really considered myself to be: a role model for women in ICT.

But as I was there, talking to a room full of really amazing girls, it kind of hit me that maybe I did have a place there. Without technology I wouldn’t be able to do my job. And while I’ve spent many years working with ICT – I’ve just never thought of myself as a woman in ICT or one of a number closing the gender gap. And there I was, amongst so many other amazing women who were also role models.

First Piece of Unsolicited Advice For Girls Wanting To Work in ICT:

Know that you have allies. Lots of them.

While no one can argue that the number of women in tech is low – it’s definitely not zero. The industry is full of amazing, creative, gutsy women who are either building technology or using it to build more things.

We need to increase visibility of these women. There are, in fact, lots of us. We’re all around the world and we’re working to do amazing things. This week I met everyone from rocket scientists, to humanitarian aid workers, to fashion designers. All these women are amazing leaders who are using or building technology to change things.

So let’s keep shining a light on the diversity of women role models across the world. The louder we can make their voices, the better.

(By the way – are you part of our members’ only forum on Women in Tech? Sign up and take part. We’re an awesome bunch).

Second Piece of Unsolicited Advice For Girls Wanting To Work in ICT:

You’re in good company.

I was blown away by the caliber of young women I met. I remember being 15 and, let me tell you, I was not nearly as driven, well spoken or focused as these girls are.

I met girls who – without hesitation – said “I want to be a mad scientist” or “I want to work in abstract design” or “I’m not really sure but I know I like bossing everyone around!”

One girl told me she wanted a career in technology but was going to focus on how our cultural, racial, and gender biases impact our research. She is 15 (I know, right?)

I’m nearly 25 years older than many of these girls and they were highlighting career paths I had never even considered. I left the meeting feeling excited for our future and for the technology industry. I have no doubt these young women will change and shape the Internet and technology to what they need. That’s the beauty of it.

We’re in good hands.

Do You Have Any Tips? 

Are you a women in tech? What’s your advice for girls about to enter the workforce? 

Photo: “Girls in ICT Day 2015” © 2015 ITU PICTURES CC BY 2.0

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