Telecom World 2015 panel displays Hungarian role models for girls in ICT

Hungarian_role_modelsIncreasing girls’ participation in the information and communication technology (ICT) sector is an important goal for ITU.

The ICT gender gap was highlighted today during a “Next Generation Day” panel discussion at ITU Telecom World 2015 in Budapest, Hungary. The following statistics were shown during the panel discussion and attributed to the European Commission and the National Center for Women and Information Technology (NCWIT):

  • Only 20% of European women aged 30 with ICT-related degrees work in the ICT sector.
  • Less than 30% of the ICT workforce in Europe are women.
  • 19% of ICT managers in Europe are women.
  • 10% of corporate officer positions in Fortune 500 tech companies are women.
  • Only a mere 4% of senior management positions in tech/R&D depts in Silicon Valley are held by women.

Sobering statistics, indeed. But the collective experience of a panel of top women ICT managers in Hungary, however, painted a decidedly brighter picture.

Judit Grósz, Microsoft’s Marketing and Operations Lead in Hungary pointed out during the discussion that half of the management team are women. “We are very proud of this,” says Ms Grósz. She also said that Microsoft Hungary has a quota ensuring that 30% of the employees must be women, which is more than double the Hungarian average.

At Cisco Systems in Hungary, some 40% of the top management are women, says General Manager Krisztina Horváth. While Cisco does not have a quota, “the recruiters are very much looking for women candidates,” she says. “It’s very easy to choose a man if only men are candidates. We have to put girls at the beginning of the [recruiting] funnel.” Cisco organizes a day once a year for girls to come in and see women managers and share work experience to inspire. The aim is to show them: “If I can, you can,” says Horváth.

Indeed, the panel stressed the importance of promoting role models. “It’s very important to create new heros,” said Tamás Müller, founder of the BudapestBoost Startup Community, main organizer of the CEE Women Startup Competition series.

Zsófia Bánhegyi, the Group Communications Director at Magyar Telekom discussed some of the programmes the company offers to ensure they have more women in their workforce. She mentioned initiatives to foster a work-life balance for female employees, such as working from home and providing child care options in the workplace. The company is also launching an orientation programme called “Become an IT expert” in which Magyar Telekom employees go to schools to share experiences with pupils about ICT careers in Hungary. “We are trying to get away from the stigma that IT is not cool,” says Ms Bánhegyi.

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