International Women’s Day take place on the 8th of March every year. This year's theme is “I am Generation Equality: Realizing Women’s Rights”, and it is an important day that celebrates the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women all across the globe. It is also about remembering those women and men who have helped advance these achievements throughout history, and have truly made their mark on the world; however big or small.
On a personal level, I remember and I am grateful to all the women who have been role models to me throughout my life, and who have supported me in my own development as a human being, but also as a woman and as a leader in the tech industry. Understanding the tech world has traditionally been considered a male-dominated industry, I am especially grateful for the support I received and for the people who trusted and empowered me in my career to date. Throughout my life and career, I was lucky enough to have been supported by amazing leaders - both women and men - who inspired me to take on new challenges far beyond my imagination, and for that I am eternally grateful.
Part of my success is due to the support I received from my peers as I progressed in my career, but I also acknowledge the importance of the generations that came before me; who set the stage for the women of my generation. I think first and foremost about my grandmother, who raised three kids by herself during WWII after her husband - who was active in the Austrian resistance - was imprisoned, and then sent to the front line where he was killed at the age of 32. She taught me the meaning of true independence, perseverance, and strength.
I also think about my daughter; an inspiring, talented and confident 11 year old, who I have no doubt will grow up to be a strong woman, will follow her dreams, and will make the world a better place. However, the sobering reality at a global level is that, in spite of the many achievements we have accomplished, the fight for gender equality is far from finished.
I know my daughter will be successful, and she will defeat any obstacle she encounters. My issue however, lies in the fact that some of these obstacles are gender specific, and are not faced by her male counterparts. According to the Global Gender Gap Report 2020, it will still take more than a lifetime to make gender equality a reality. The report also suggests that the greatest challenge preventing the economic gender gap from closing is women’s under-representation in emerging roles. In cloud computing, just 12% of professionals are women. Similarly, in engineering, data and AI, the numbers are 15% and 26% respectively. This simply isn’t good enough.
As a female leader in technology, I am committed to creating an open and inclusive workplace, and to personally mentor girls and women to help develop the next generation of professionals and female leaders who will follow their dreams, who will be successful in today's workplace, and who in turn will help advance gender equality in the future.
International Women’s Day is a call to action. The day seeks to inspire the acceleration of gender equality in societies where girls and boys, or women and men simply don't have the same opportunities and rights in all areas of life as other parts of the world do. Women’s issues are human issues. The day is about challenging these issues, because gender equality is a right, not a privilege.