Successful Girls in ICT Day
(Photo: Ministry of Education,Youth & Information)

Youth Can Do IT (YCDI) marked Girls in ICT Day 2021 with the second staging of their two-day virtual event #iamWITy (I am woman in technology). High school and university students and working professionals in attendance were educated, empowered and encouraged to take up space as women in technology.

Sponsored by NCB Foundation, Microsoft Caribbean and Jamaica Technology and Digital Alliance (JTDA), the event was held from April 22 to 23 under the theme 'Amplify your story: What will you create '. International Girls in ICT Day is celebrated worldwide, annually, on the last Thursday of April, with the goal of “creating a global environment that empowers and encourages girls and young women to consider studies and careers in the growing field of information and communication technologies”.

Minister of Education, Youth and Information Fayval Williams and Lieutenant Colonel Godphey Sterling, head of Jamaica Cyber Incident Response Team at the Ministry of Science, Energy and Technology reaffirmed their commitment to STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) education and urged companies to create a pipeline for women entering the industry. Keynote speaker for day one, Sheree Martin, head of retail banking at NCB, encouraged participants to adopt the right “heart set”. Dr Tarika Barrett, CEO of Girls Who Code, challenged the audience to close the widening gender gap in tech.

The daily workshops provided participants with hands-on opportunities to learn invaluable skills from leading experts in the field. Topics included: Storytelling with Data from Raquel Seville, CEO of BI Brainz; Cybersecurity with Dr Moniphia Hewling, CEO of eMRock Online; User Experience from the JTDA IEEE group; Marketing and Branding with Kadia Francis, founder of the Digital Jamaica Platform; and Monique McIntosh, co-founder of Digital Disruption Agency; Agile Leadership with Nicole Safley from Elevate Agility; and Data, Artificial Intelligence and Coding from the Microsoft team of Iasia Brown, Jasmine Greenaway and Adriana Menedez.

Participants explored imposter syndrome with panellists Paula Pannuzzo of Facebook, Krista Forbes of Optima the Agency, freelance artist Danielle Parchment, and Kadeon Grant of Digicel Jamaica. Moderated by Jordan Nakash, the panel shared what many women in male-dominated industries experience: the idea that they “lucked” their way into their roles, and someone will think they are frauds. The event wrapped with four incredible women in tech: Danielle Skeen of Microsoft, Kamilah Taylor of Gusto, Belinda Baah of GSMA, and Sarah Adam of Velo by Wix sharing their journeys and experiences with the audience.

The #iamWITy attendees walked away with two overarching themes from each day's opening speakers. Alicia Tambe, public policy manager, global connectivity and access at Facebook underscored the point that the Internet is no longer a convenience but a necessity for people to thrive! Lianne McNaughton, founder of Youth Can Do IT reminded all of the importance of “working in your strengths” and finding the right “inputs to develop your outputs”.

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