With computer and information systems managers consistently ranked among the top 20 best-paying jobs – on a par with surgeons, orthodontists, airline pilots and lawyers – why are young women turning their backs on technology?
ITU's High-level Panel of experts from government, the ICT industry, the education sector and the media agreed that major problems include a poor perception of the industry among girls, and a lack of inspiring role models.
Finnish Communications Minister Suvi Lindén spoke of a culture of negativity around science and maths that is affecting girls as young as primary level. Educator Inal Uygur of the International School of Geneva noted that teachers unwittingly or even deliberately put girls off technology as a career, often with a misplaced sense that they are acting in the girl's best interests. Professor Anastasia Ailamaki, who leads the DIAS Lab at the prestigious Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, observed that male teachers' envy of young girls' talents can also sometimes play an insidious role.
Ms Alethea Lodge-Clarke, Programme Manager, Public Private Partnerships DigiGirlz, Microsoft Industry representatives Alethea Lodge-Clark of Microsoft and Victor Agnellini of Alcatel-Lucent affirmed that encouraging more girls into technology careers was important to the ongoing growth of the ICT industry, particularly in Europe and the US. Both highlighted their own companies' initiatives to redress the problem, such as the Digigirlz programme managed globally by Microsoft, and female-oriented initiatives managed by the Alcatel-Lucent Foundation in countries around the world.