The world of information and communication technology (ICT) has traditionally been viewed as a strictly male industry. And it may have been that way until recently. However, things are changing, and more and more women are breaking into the field and making significant contributions.
In 2015, Nataša Kapov Kostovski decided to combat bias. She founded the Lemax ICT Supergirls initiative as part of the global ITU’s Girls in ICT Day. It seeks to empower girls and young women and encourage them to consider pursuing education and careers in ICT.
The Importance to Act
A research conducted by the University of Washington explored the gender-based beliefs young children and teens hold about interest in STEM fields. It showed that boys and girls have a similar interest in computers and informatics, but after high school, the interest of girls significantly decreases.
Gender-interest stereotypes that STEM is an industry best suited for boys begins as early as elementary school. By the time girls reach high school, many make the decision to pursue their degree and career elsewhere mostly because they feel as if they don’t belong. It takes a lot of time, particularly in the early stages and in education, to make children aware of the fact that we can all thrive in the same professions.
Girls and women may feel discouraged from pursuing careers in ICT because of societal expectations and stereotypes about what types of careers are suitable for women. Such stereotypes are undoubtedly harmful.
This is why it is important to silence the stigma that the IT industry is reserved only for men and create equal opportunities to improve our community. From 2015 until now, the Lemax ICT Supergirls conference has been organized with that goal precisely.
The conference connects universities and IT companies to jointly promote gender equality, organizes inspiring programs for women’s professional development, and provides guidance and recommendations for careers in ICT.
In addition to attending inspiring lectures, visitors have the opportunity to sign up for the Mentoring Byte program, which pairs young IT professionals with experienced mentors for one-on-one mentorship.
The value of the conference lies not only in attending lectures but also in the opportunity for attendees to network and share experiences with others who share similar interests.
Our Nataša Kapov Kostovski, the name behind the ICT Supergirls conference, once said, “I can’t change the world by myself, but I can be a pebble that will start an avalanche.” This quote perfectly encapsulates the spirit and goals of our initiative.
We Want to Create Equal Opportunities
We take great pride in the progress we’ve made and the lives we’ve improved through the Lemax ICT Supergirls initiative. Although we always welcome new participants, the most fulfilling result is seeing the women we’ve encouraged to alter their professional choices eventually return to the conference as speakers. This is a true testament to the value of our efforts.
“This is the only event that gives me goosebumps, even just talking about it. I have witnessed life-changing experiences, and it always surprises me how much someone else’s experience means to the participants and motivates them. With this project, we are truly changing our community for the better,” said Nataša.
At Lemax, we have always nurtured and supported gender equality in every sense. As proof of our commitment, the company employs approximately an equal number of men and women in various positions, including management roles. Our experience has shown that diversity and gender equality brings only benefits to the company, enabling all individuals to progress and improve regardless of their gender, age, ethnicity, or any other factor.
There Is Still Much Work to Be Done
In recent years, there has been notable progress in increasing the number of women pursuing careers in ICT. Many companies have made an effort to recruit and retain women in this industry. Despite these strides, there is still much work to be done to ensure that women have equal opportunities and representation in the industry.
Achieving equality in the ICT industry creates more inclusive, innovative, and economically prosperous societies. Addressing these challenges will require a combined effort from the educational system and the industry.
At Lemax, we are committed to conveying the message that women can pursue their dream path in life with full strength and confidence, regardless of gender barriers. We will continue to support initiatives such as Lemax ICT Supergirls to encourage and inspire young women to pursue careers in ICT.