GLOBAL leaders from the US, Europe, Africa and Asia joined together on Thursday to debate and define a roadmap that will help break down barriers and overturn outmoded attitudes in a bid get more girls into technology-related studies and careers.
A high-level dialogue was held at New York's Institute of International Education. It was hosted by the International Telecommunication Union, the UN-specialised agency for information and communication technology, identified misguided school age career counselling, the popular media's 'geek' image of the technology field, a dearth of inspirational female role models, and a lack of supportive frameworks in the home and workplace as factors that, together, tend to dissuade talented girls from pursuing a tech career.
The debate brought together leading international figures and champions of gender empowerment including Melanne Verveer, United States Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women's Issues; Lakshmi Puri, Deputy Executive Director, UN Women; Mignon Clyburn, Commissioner with the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC); Neelie Kroes, Vice President of the European Commission and Commissioner for the Digital Agenda; and Jasna Mati, State Secretary for Digital Agenda in Serbia.
It also featured lively discussion from industry leaders including Alethea Lodge-Clarke, Program Manager of Public Private Partnerships for Microsoft; Monique Morrow, CTO Asia Pacific with Cisco Systems; Juliana Rotich, Ushahidi's pioneering Executive Director; and Sarah Wynn-Williams, Manager of Global Public Policy for Facebook.
The event featured a special guest Joanne O'Riordan, one of only seven people in the world with Total Amelia, a congenital birth condition causing the absence of all four limbs.