SAN JOSÉ, Costa Rica — Some 44 per cent of the 92 young people who gathered here for the 2023 Seeds for the Future programme were women, a sharp contrast to years past. And the women not only stood out in participation, but most of the presenters of start-up projects for teams in the Tech4ALL presentations were women, as Huawei seeks to achieve gender parity in the programme.
Carolina Herrera, communication manager of Huawei Central America and the Caribbean, said at the same time that the leading company in the technology, information and communication sector, has also increased programmes specifically focused on women.
Part of Huawei's work in the past several years has been skewed towards promoting female participation and reducing the gender gap. It aims to increase women's participation in the information communication and technology (ICT) sector and the digital economy.
In the first years of Seeds for the Future in Central America and the Caribbean, only about 15 per cent of the participants were female. In the future the goal is to be able to achieve 50 per cent.
"Huawei's commitment to gender equality extends far beyond our own organisation. As a leader in the global ICT industry we recognise our responsibility to share our knowledge and tools in order to foster social progress. By improving digital skills and access through skills training, vocational training, and ICT training for women around the world, Huawei seeks not only to contribute to the UN Sustainable Development Goals, but also to drive growth in the ICT industry," the company said in a statement on gender equality.
"Through our global corporate social responsibility campaigns, targeted scholarship and mentorship programmes, and other initiatives focused on helping women and girls unleash their full potential — such as WomenInTech — we are working every day to bridge the digital divide and ensure that everyone — no matter their gender, race, religion, ethnicity or sexual orientation — will share in the benefits of technology as we move into this new digital era."
WomenInTech seeks to promote education for women in technology. This hinges on the belief that in the digital era women are cornerstones of the tech industry, and empowering women and increasing their visibility will open up a whole world of new possibilities and bring new technological and commercial advancements to the world.
"We seek to close the digital divide, promote equal access to connectivity throughout the region, and train future professionals as well as reduce the gender gap, as we maintain the commitment to increase female participation in this programme and promote education based on equal opportunities," Herrera said.
She was quick to point out that achieving parity will not mean that opportunities will be given to women just because of gender, but "because of the fact that they have the necessary skills to compete …"
The WomenInTech programme is open to all women — students, partners identified in the ecosystem who need tools and training, etc.
Huawei said with its partners it is exploring the social value of technologies, using Internet and digital technologies to improve women's well-being.
"We are committed to helping women engage in tech and providing more opportunities and platforms for women to unleash their potential and lead our society to a more prosperous and equitable future," the company said.
"The main thing we want to do is translate the knowledge," Herrera added. "We identify that they want to know — that's most necessary — then we give them the knowledge; and we have the specific programme just for women to give this kind of capacity."
Some of those aided are women in rural areas who may not have the necessary tools to grow in the tech sector, and those who come in search for support.
"So we have open applications; mainly they have certain projects that they want to develop and we try to identify these that want to have this knowledge," Herrera said. "We give them the knowledge and tools to develop their skills in tech... to help them to be able to grow in their sector."
In commenting on the 2021 Global Gender Gap Report from the World Economic Forum, Huawei said women continue to be severely under-represented in three quarters of the world's jobs of tomorrow — a category which includes cloud computing, data and AI, engineering, and product development.
"As advances in modern technology bring us closer and closer to a fully connected, intelligent world, we must overcome the gaps between men and women in terms of Internet access, tech engagement, and tech leadership," the company said.
— Petulia Clarke-Lawrence