Girls in ICT Day Conference 2020 - President's Speech

Girls In ICT Day Conference 2020

Speech by AMCHAM T&T PRESIDENT - Ms. Patricia Ghany
(Thursday, 23rd April 2020)

Good morning everyone and thank you for having me here.

Before I begin, I want to congratulate the Restore a Sense of I Can (RSC) team headed by Mr. Raj Ramdass for making the decision to proceed with this event, especially in these uncertain times.

With the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic affecting the entire world, today, I feel we are finally one community that is no longer separated by borders and oceans.

This pandemic has shown us that we must look out for each other even if that means we have to socially distance or self-quarantined ourselves from each other.

I want to thank everyone who is logged on today for doing their path and for realizing that an important event such as this must go on. It is in these times we must seek alternative avenues to ensure business continuity which is why AMCHAM T&T is proud to be a partner of this event.

As President of the American Chamber of Commerce of Trinidad and Tobago, I want you to know that the International Girls in ICT Day is an initiative that I am personally very passionate about.

It gives me great pleasure to represent an organization that has made both gender parity and advancing our nation’s tech sector#two equally important issues that we have been proudly championing over the last few years.

For us at AMCHAM T&T, we see these two issues as intersectional in our measures of support and advocacy. By this, I mean, if we are to develop our nation’s tech sector, we cannot do this without addressing the gaps that keep girls and women in a disadvantaged state.

As one of the fastest growing sectors in the world, ICT has many benefits - namely creating a wide range of exciting jobs with unique skills and technical know-how for everyone.

For women in technical fields and girls who are aspiring to have ICT jobs, this increases their opportunities for employment in fields such as software development, teaching at ICT, computer engineering, space development, and electronic and electrical engineering.

However, the data keeps telling us that there is a disproportionately low number of female students who are given access to pursue higher education in technical fields such as math, engineering, computing, and sciences, for a number of reasons.

There is also a body of evidence to show that the tech sector is currently, male-dominated, especially at the senior levels. Think, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Tim Cook, Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, Mark Zuckerberg, Jack Dorsey, and the list goes on. I am sure those names sound familiar to you, but does anyone notice a trend here? Won’t it be more apt to replace these names with super women, female pioneers in ICT such as Ada Lovelace, Marissa Mayer, Grace Harper, and Sheryl Sandberg.

This is what I meant when I said we must address the existing gaps, and why advancing the tech sector is married to advancing the opportunities for girls and women everywhere. We simply cannot achieve one and ignore the other.

This is also why the International Girls in ICT Day, and this event is so important to us at AMCHAM T&T. This day allows us to highlight these issues and expose the next generation of female leaders to increase opportunities. We hope this empowers them to enter ICT knowing that there is a bright future ahead for them in this field.

When we increase the educational opportunities in ICT for girls and women, and develop a more gender-balanced tech sector, we are lifting women out of poverty by offering them opportunities for jobs and access to move up the career ladder quicker in their respective fields.

We are also helping girls and women to create their own space and agency. ICT helps women to gain better status within their society and to excel professionally, according to their own choice.

So, as we all sit behind our computers and mobile devices, I want you to soak up the information shared with you today. I believe there are sessions that will expose you to other young girls and women who are making waves in the tech world. You will learn how to deliver presentations and develop your critical and design thinking skills. You will also be taught about entrepreneurship and leadership.

This information will open many doors for you in the future. What you learn here today may inspire you to create your school’s first robotics club, or lead you to develop the next great app that everyone is talking about, or perhaps become the CEO of your own tech company that is changing the world. This is the power of ICT and this is why we need to ensure girls and women have equal access to it.

Thank you.

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