Currently, men outnumber women in Europe’s tech scene. With less than one in five ICT specialists being female last year. More broadly, across business and finance, fewer than one in ten of the EU’s largest-listed companies have a female Chair or CEO.
In Prague, we met two young women, from different parts of Europe, determined to close the gender gap and become future business leaders.
“My big interest is sustainability and I’d like to work in businesses with a purpose that cares for the environment,” said 21-year-old Consolata Losana from Turin in Italy.
Olubukola Adebowale, known as Bukky for short, is 23 and comes from Kildare in Ireland: “My passion is making sure that women and people of colour have access to everything in society.”
Making the digital revolution inclusive
Bukky and Consolata are in the Czech capital, along with 27 other young female students from EU countries, but also from the Western Balkans and Ukraine, to take part in a Summer School for Women’s Leadership in the Digital Age organised by the technology company Huawei.
“What we are trying to do at Huawei and what we are trying to do with our schools is to equip women with the tools and the skills that they need to not only shape but also lead the digital revolution,” says Berta Herrero Estalayo, Head of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, at Huawei EU.
During the school, current female leaders from the world of technology, business and politics challenge the students.
Among them is Caroline Ramade, founder and CEO of 50inTech.
“We need to reduce the pay gap, achieve equitable career development and a better work-life balance,” says Ramade.
“This issue is not as simple as people think,” says Bukky, adding: “When you look at this issue, you don’t just look at women, you look at women of colour, women with disabilities and others.”
Taking centre stage
Climate change, sustainability, the energy transition are all up for debate, as the young women look to shape the Europe of tomorrow.
“The climate crisis should be taken into account as the first priority, But definitely I also don’t want to forget that sustainability also comprises the social part. And so really to leave no one behind,” insists Consolata.
During the Summer School, Consolata and Bukky’s team come up with a training and networking platform to help SMEs navigate the digital, sustainable world. They then have to pitch their ideas on stage.
“I feel really great after doing the presentation. The public speaking was an excellent tool that I can definitely use,” says Bukky.
After a busy week of summer school the students gather to say goodbye at Prague’s iconic Troja Palace where Bukky and Consolata both receive an award.
“I’m over the moon, honestly. It’s just given me an extra boost of confidence to really, really take all my ideas and passions, and funnel it into the future for younger generations,” says Bukky.
Summing up, Consolata says: “I feel immensely grateful. I’m sad that it’s over, but I know it’s just the start of something great.”