More women in IT: it’s time to break prejudice!

Technology and science allow us today to respond to the problems of tomorrow. And that requires a good dose of creativity, empathy and curiosity. Typically feminine traits, right? And yet, the technology sector will still be a man’s world in 2022. International Women’s Day is the ideal opportunity to reflect on this. Isn’t it time we encouraged more girls to consciously choose science studies?

I ended up in the IT sector by accident. I wanted to be a Latin teacher, but someone convinced me to attend an open house with a business engineering degree in policy informatics. And suddenly I was inspired to choose technology and science. It is striking that, when I ask my SAS colleagues why they started working in technology, they also always tell me that it was more by chance, or due to the impulse of other women.

The situation is different for men: they usually very consciously opt for an IT job. Apparently few girls dream of a tech career at a young age. And it’s a shame, because there are certainly many young girls today who could have a great career, but who will soon opt for a completely different job due to a lack of support and awareness.

Need for female role models

For girls to choose the tech sector, we need female role models. Today everyone knows what a baker or a teacher does, but not what the role of a data scientist is. While the impact of that work is huge.

For girls to choose the tech sector, we need female role models.

Véronique Van Vlasselaer, AI & Analytics Leader at SAS South-West Europe

Women need to talk about how their work in the tech sector has an impact on society. How they use their creativity and curiosity to develop solutions for the future. Topics like artificial intelligence, machine learning, and advanced analytics need to be explained to the young generation. Because with data and algorithms it is now possible to predict the best things and thus have a positive impact on our lives and the planet.

At Microsoft, about one in five technology positions is held by a woman. Google, Apple and Facebook hardly do better at 23%. That says enough. In recent years, many efforts have been made to get girls excited about a STEM direction. I have always liked to contribute, for example, by participating in VLAIO initiatives. Still, we need to step up and help young girls find their way in an industry that is sadly still labeled a man’s world.

Break the bias!

The central theme of International Women’s Day 2022? Break the bias! Get rid of prejudices. This is also very current in the IT world. Today it is thought that this sector mainly affects men. Nothing is less true. It is the combination, or call it equality, that gives the correct result. Why should a team of developers be made up of only men? A woman on the team can create a new angle.

Encourage young women today to choose a career in technology tomorrow.

Véronique Van Vlasselaer, AI & Analytics Leader at SAS South-West Europe

There is no reason why boys should be better developers than girls. According to computer engineer Koen Bertels from TU Delft, women would be better equipped to deal with the special logic of quantum physics. I have no idea if this is correct, but it should be clear that women in the tech world have at least an equally important contribution to make. So here’s a warm call: encourage the young women of today to choose a career in technology tomorrow.

This is a contribution submitted by Véronique Van Vlasselaer, Analytics & AI Lead at SAS South-West Europe. To learn more about SAS solutions, click here.

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