This week we celebrated International Women's Day (IWD) for which General Assembly, Metta and Camel Assembly hosted an evening with four panelists, myself included, to discuss pioneering gender equality in our industries. With a room of over 130 women and a handful of men, we spoke about the challenges we have faced, our experience with gender equality at home and at work and shared tips and strategies on taking action.
Motivated by a huge buzz and burgeoning guest list going into the evening, panelists and attendees alike were excited to #BeBoldForChange, this year's IWD theme. Each of us as panelists brought different experiences to the discussion which was brilliantly moderated by Keisha, who asked thought provoking questions of the panelists and audience, expertly engaging the entire room.
I shared about Next Chapter and my experiences building a funding portal focused on female entrepreneurs, however as part of the #BeBoldForChange theme I highlighted technology and it’s ever increasing impact on our lives. We are all familiar with the gender disparity in STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) and more broadly the tech industry.
“It’s important that girls understand that STEM is not just for boys, it’s for everyone. We need to support girls in believing that they can do anything they want to, that includes exceling in math and science. We also need to create opportunities to expose the girls to the vast possibilities in STEM, a field that is increasingly influencing many parts of our daily lives. The more and sooner we do that, the faster women and the society will advance in STEM.”
Director, AIA Edge, AIA Group
The future is big data, smart cities and the internet of things (IoT). These developments are quickly changing the way society interacts, and in particular for IoT, how smart, connected product development will impact our lives. What is the implication of this, you ask? Without an equal representation of women participating in these developments, we will continue to be left behind and our interests left unheard amongst the voices of men in the field.
"The revolution in Digital that will happen in the coming 10 years are mind-blowing. I encourage women to join this revolution. It’s my impression that some women resist Digital out of fear of the Digital world being cold and logic. Nothing is further from the truth. The Digital world is the most creative industry by far - finding solutions and solving problems is a very creative process. We need women to help build the future!”
As women control a large proportion of the consumer spend, one of my questions was - how can women, through technology, have a greater impact on the changes we will see as our cities become smarter and our products more connected. If #thefutureisfemale is to be true then women and girls need to be part of future developments through increased participation in STEM.
“Technology is part of our daily lives, as is math, biology or literature. People of all ages and genders benefit from knowledge gained through technology. Our daily lives are influenced heavily by the technologies we use to enrich them.”
At the end of the evening everyone made a pledge to be #BeBoldForChange. I felt that not only did I learn from the other panelists and the audience during the evening but we also renewed our pledge at Next Chapter. This is to change investor language and landscape so that women become more included in the funding process and we contribute to 'moving the needle' in supporting the continued growth of female entrepreneurs businesses. This is my pledge to #BeBoldForChange.
The buzz after the event, and feeding into social media stratosphere afterwards, really gave everyone a sense of purpose.
So I ask, how will you #BeBoldForChange?