“Women into IT” included IT career orientation for girls in secondary schools in the Czech Republic. Photo: Jana Pradlova
Taking control of technology for women’s advocacy took a different tack in the Czech Republic in 2007, where APC WNSP Europe introduced the project “Women into IT” to challenge stereotypes around women and ICTs and attract more women into the IT field. The project was sponsored by IBM and aimed at secondary school-leavers, women reinserting themselves into the labour market after maternity leave (which can last up to four years), and those attracted to IT but lacking the confidence to pursue a job in the sector.
During the year gender and IT awareness sessions, training sessions and public roundtable discussions were held in the cities of Prague and Brno. Twenty women in high-level positions at IBM exemplified the diversity of professions in the IT field and were keen to support the project, serving as role models during sessions, talking about their work, and challenging myths around women and IT. The project was very well received by educators, media, other IT companies and women’s organisations, who all participated in the public roundtable discussions, and especially by women and girls who took part in the workshops.
The major point emphasised by participants in their evaluations was that the project provided not only technical training and know-how, but also a space to share and reflect on women’s personal and work-related goals and issues, their relationship to ICTs, and their motivation to work in technology.