I was deeply honored to speak at the DNS Women’s breakfast yesterday at the ICANN 53 meeting in Buenos Aires. The ICANN community, broadly, deals with a wide variety of technical issues related to the coordination role of the Domain Name System, the Internet’s naming system. The DNS Women’s breakfast is a regular event at ICANN meetings, aiming to promote networking, information and resource sharing. I would like to thank Olga Cavelli, Wanda Scartezini, and Cheryl Langdon-Orr for organizing yesterday’s breakfast, which had more than 85 participants. It’s great to see more women in positions of leadership across the ICANN and other parts of the Internet technical community.
I am not a technical person, but as a policy advocate I see my role as helping to advance the work of the technical community — a community in which women are increasingly participating as leaders both formally, and by simply stepping up and making things happen. Of course I am proud to work for the Internet Society, an organization and community that has many strong female leaders around the world. Despite all this progress, there is more work to be done so that the promise of the Internet is available to women worldwide—and so that women participate fully in the Internet’s further development.
It is encouraging that issues of diversity are increasingly being addressed within the Internet technical community. For example, in the IETF there has been a serious, if sometimes difficult, discussion among the participants about how to improve gender diversity within the IETF. We must continue to make strengthening the participation of women in technical fields a priority.
More broadly, I’m from a country where there are a lot of opportunities in the technical field for women. Unfortunately, in many parts of the world, those same opportunities, whether in terms of education or leadership, do not exist. So I deeply believe that, on a personal level, we have a role and responsibility to mentor other women in global gatherings like ICANN, and I believe we must step up to that challenge as individuals.
Gatherings like the DNS Women’s breakfast are not just events. They are opportunities to build community. Through the Internet, we can continue to build and strengthen that community even as we depart Buenos Aires later this week.