This year a European partnership led by Brussels-based Zen Digital Europe will award the first-ever European prizes recognising girls and women who have distinguished themselves in digital studies and careers, and organisations contributing to increased participation of girls and women in digital sectors in Europe. The respective awards are destined for Europe’s very first Digital Girl of the Year, Digital Woman of the Year and Digital Impact Organisation of the Year.
In partnership with the Council of European Professional Informatics Societies (CEPIS), DIGITALEUROPE, the European Centre for Women and Technology (ECWT) and European Schoolnet, the three awards will be presented for the first time by EU Commission Vice President Neelie Kroes at ICT 2013, Europe’s largest ICT event, taking place 8-10 November in Vilnius. The awards initiative, officially accepted as a pledge to the Grand Coalition for Digital Skills and Jobs in Europe at the Digital Assembly last month in Dublin, represents “the tip of the tsunami for driving increased participation of girls and women in Europe’s ICT sector,” according to Kroes.
For VP Kroes, greater participation of women and girls in ICT is a critical factor in addressing Europe’s widening digital skills gap which could result in as many as one million ICT jobs going unfilled by 2015. Bridging this gap is at the heart of the Grand Coalition initiative Kroes launched with three other European Commissioners in March of this year. Regarding the opportunity presented by digitally skilled girls and women, Kroes asks, “why couldn’t half of those jobs be filled by women?”
Cheryl Miller, Founder of Zen Digital Europe and originator of the awards initiative, says the purpose of the awards is to “bring recognition to girls and women who distinguish themselves as leaders in digitally-oriented studies and careers in Europe,” areas where representation and visibility of women is abysmally low, Miller says. Today, everything from music production to scientific research has a digital component, so according to Miller, “it’s essential that we get the messages out that ICT isn’t just for boys, and that girls and women have a critical role in bridging Europe’s ICT skills gap in many strategic sectors.” To recognise girls and women who are already positively impacting Europe’s digital landscape, and the organisations helping them to do that, is, in Miller’s words, “an important first step to empower women to help close the digital skills gap.” Read more…
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