This blog is by Jane Rygaard, head of CEM, Core and OSS marketing at Nokia Networks.
I have to admit that the industry’s recent activities to embrace and encourage the female voice in ICT really got me thinking. One example was the #ICTgirls activities, which Nokia and other key players hosted for many young female students around the world. While I’m happy to see so many fantastic initiatives to include young women in telecoms, I’m concerned as to why we aren’t able to keep their interest long enough to see the number reflected in employee figures. Today, women make up about 20% of the ICT workforce on average. This is the case for Nokia Networks, and I am happy to report that this average is also reflected at the leadership level.
Interestingly, the current trend in the European Union finds an increasing amount of girls in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) classes at the high school level – even beyond the 50% mark in northern Europe. However, these numbers are not reflected in uptake at the university level with women bypassing the science education route and are therefore not reflected in our industry employment figures either. You might ask, why do we need a higher ratio of women in ICT? In my opinion, it is not about the ratio, but about ensuring that we don’t lose out as a society by not attracting ALL of the innovative young talent, both male and female.
Always ask why
So why are women not flocking to ICT? Personally, I believe it is exactly a matter of ‘Why’. As an engineer, I love technology, but as a woman I am not very enthusiastic about it if I don’t see the purpose– an understanding of ‘why do we need this?’ Traditionally, we have talked about technology for the sake of technology. Think back to the initial 2G roll-outs in our industry. There wasn’t a lot of discussion about what it should be used for. We built networks and made them faster because we were able to. Fortunately, this has changed over the last years and we’re asking the right questions, like what do we want to use the technology for. An important strategic impact of this is the value now placed on Customer Experience Management (CEM), for getting the experience and service right for the end-user. And ironically, if I consider the area of CEM and OSS – I do see a higher ratio of women engaged with these topics than the industry average. This convinces me that we can attract and maintain the interest of women in telecoms if we can concentrate on highlighting the ‘Why’ versus the ‘What’ – in other words, on the human possibilities of technology.
Let’s decide what we want 5G to do for us
This also brings to mind our industry’s hottest topic right now: 5G. I consider it real progress when I hear the discussions actually start from how we can expand the human possibilities of technology (#maketechhuman) rather than what kind of technology we need to deliver them. If we are case-driven in our approach to technology innovation, then I believe we’ll attract a higher percentage of the brilliant minds of the world, both women and men, to telecoms.
See also the video: Women in the IT industry with Kathrin Buvac.
Please share your thoughts on this topic by replying below – and join the Twitter discussion with @NokiaNetworks using #Nokia #NetworksPerform #mobilebroadband #ICTgirls #5G #maketechhuman #CSPCX.