Empowering women to be change-makers is a key step in achieving gender equality, experts across the UAE said.
Sharing their thoughts on the International Day of Women and Girls in Science, several experts highlighted the progress that the UAE has made in empowering young women, especially those that have chosen careers in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) fields.
Lovina Pereira, regional distribution centre manager, Global Supply Chain at Schneider Electric, noted that the challenge to further achieve gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls revolves around perception, and confidence.
“We have to focus on breaking stereotypes so that girls are energised and recognised, and confident in their power as change-makers,” she said. “How do we do this? First, we must encourage our girls to pursue career paths in STEM. If we want to attract the best and brightest minds into the fields that will move us forward, we must look to all of the population. Acknowledging girls’ abilities at a young age and reminding them of their talent throughout their time at school, we’re helping these young girls believe that they choose science as a career choice.”
“Secondly, we must highlight positive female role models,” she said. “As long as young girls are exposed to successful women scientists and engineers and are equally encouraged to study those disciplines, those with talent and a genuine interest in STEM fields will be able to adopt it as a career.”
Lastly, she said that organistions have to highlight the diversity of female scientists such as the UAE’s Sarah Al Amiri, the young minister behind the country’s Mars Hope probe. Recognising female achievements in the field of science and technology, regardless of age, race or ethnicity, will help young girls feel more valued and confident.
Dr Chris Cooper, director and GM of Lenovo Data Centre Group MEA, said that the technology industry has been playing its part in empowering women and encouraging diversity in the workplace.
“At Lenovo, we ensure diversity and inclusion are at the heart of everything we do,” he said. “We are taking an active role in bridging the divide and empowering women to participate in the workplace. For instance in the EMEA region, 37 per cent of our staff are women, and globally, 27.4 per cent hold technical roles. Similarly in the UAE market alone, women represent 25 per cent of our overall employees which is already higher than the global average of 16 per cent of women in IT roles.”
“It is our priority and duty to continue to increase this, and to demonstrate to the next generation that their choice of education focus or career should not be decided by their gender, but simply their level of ambition and skillset,” he stressed.
Lenovo recently launched a global initiative called the ‘Women in Lenovo Leadership’ (WILL) initiative, which is designed to address career growth needs which can support women’s development and contribution in our company. The global effort highlights best how to not only attract but also retain female talent in the technology sector.
“In the UAE, we host several networking events, workshops and mentoring programs specifically for our female employees each year,” Cooper said. “We also collaborate with partner entities such as Women in Technology International, local chamber organisations and local women’s groups to offer personal development activities for women inside and outside of our company,” he said.
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