Source: Digital Communications Network, 2021

During an online discussion on “how to develop the next generation of female digital leaders,” organised by the Digital Communications Network on 6 April 2021, Stella Kasdagli, Co-founder of Women on Top; Nina Nikolic, leader at Womenpreneurs Balkans; and moderator Marianna Tanagia, Communication Manager of Digital Communication Network, were joined by CEE Her Professional and GLOBSEC’s Technology Stream Lead, Zuzana Pisoň.

Stella Kasdagli divided the issues affecting women’s opportunities in technology-related workplaces into individual and systemic. First, because women are generally less confident when using technology, the work environment is largely male-dominated, in turn discouraging female experts from pursuing this career path. As Nina Nikolic pointed out, this lack of self-esteem is often reflected in women’s reluctance to apply for jobs if there is even the slightest concern over not fully satisfying application criteria. Second, since the stream of technology is visibly gendered and created to suit the needs of a man, social security and family responsibilities are unaccounted for even for the small proportion of women who are adamant about succeeding in the tech sector. As long as women technology leaders and experts stay a rarity in the tech sector, the products and services can hardly be called inclusive.

When trying to ensure that the “next generation of female digital leaders” is going to be provided will all the necessary tools to flourish in the digital environment, Zuzana Pisoň said that there appears a vicious cycle. A pattern that on the one side reinforces cultural stereotypes at a young age via not informing girls about work possibilities and not educating enough for young women to acquire a sufficient degree of digital fluency, and on the other side, fails to provide attractive opportunities for women once aiming to get employed in the technology stream.

“We need to encourage young women to look beyond the horizon and stand their ground in the tech sector,” said Zuzana Pisoň when highlighting the need to create a female talent pipeline to not only tackle the issue of digital gender pay gap but to also challenge the underlying cycle of female underrepresentation in this area. For this to happen, women should be “confident and determined.”

Watch the whole virtual discussion on Digital Communications Network’s website.