Women4Tech takes centre stage at MWC19

The 2019 edition of MWC is almost upon us and is shaping up to be an impressive event, as 110,000 attendees prepare to gather in Barcelona to discover the latest industry developments, do business, network – and possibly attend some of the famous parties.

2019 will be my fifth MWC – four times as part of the GSMA Conference content team and previously as an attendee. 2019 will be a landmark year for the GSMA’s Women4Tech programme, marking three years since its official launch. Women4Tech is committed to increasing gender diversity at all levels in the telecoms and wider tech industries.

I have been privileged enough to work on the programme since its launch and witness first-hand the high level of engagement and sheer appetite from our attendees – both male and female – for an event that openly discusses the issues around diversity, and sadly too often discrimination, head-on. Sadly, the tech world’s issues with gender diversity are well-known and we’ve all seen the shocking stats around female/male splits in the tech world – one recent study found that only 15% of employees working in STEM roles in the UK are female. Additionally, only 5% of leadership positions in the technology industry are held by women.

What’s powerful about the Women4Tech events is that we assemble the industry’s senior leaders and decision makers in one place – the majority of whom are women. These women are key decision-makers and influencers within the biggest telecoms and tech companies globally – they hold the power to affect change and influence key company initiatives, actions and decisions that will make a real impact in terms of lowering the gender divide. Together, we can rally the industry to commit to making a real change.

Given that the majority of leadership roles in our industry are still held by men, it is crucial that we engage men in the conversation – this is not an event aimed solely at women, in fact, last year we saw an even higher number of male attendees in the audience and for many of the men who attended, Women4Tech was the highlight of their MWC.

Companies can no longer afford to be complacent – this isn’t just the right thing to do, it makes financial and business sense. Diverse groups are proven to deliver better decisions and major investors are pushing for more diverse boards – improving your company’s diversity must be a top priority. Change is possible with investors like BlackRock voting against board members over diversity and female directors at FTSE 100 companies rising to 27.7 percent now from 17.3 percent in 2013.

In 2019 the Women4Tech Summit will discuss a range of crucial issues and won’t shy away from those difficult conversations around gender and equality: ‘Are we facing a talent crisis in AI?’; Can women truly “have it all”- and more importantly do they want “it all”?’; What does it mean to live and work in a post-#MeToo world – for men and women?; what’s the significance of diversity in creativity?; Monday 25 Feb will feature the Women4Tech Keynote in the 2,000 capacity Auditorium 1.

Confirmed speakers include:

Dr. Athina Kanioura, Chief Data Scientist, Applied Intelligence, Accenture
Helena Norrman SVP, Chief Marketing & Communications Officer, Ericsson
Miriam Vogel, Executive Director, EqualAI
Ursula Soritsch-Renier, Group CIO and Digital Leader, Nokia
Lauren Brown, Director of Special Projects, Quartz
Catherine Michel, CTO, Sigma Systems
Kjersti Jamne, CMO and VP Consumer, Telia
Alex Badenoch, Group Executive Transformation & People, Telstra
Elisabetta Romano, CTO, TIM

New this year the GSMA has introduced ‘Inside Track’, as well as two invitation-only activities: the Women4Tech Roundtable and Women4Tech Dinner, both of which provide the chance to engage in meaningful discussions on ways women can progress to leadership positions and have more participation in Boards. For more information, visit: www.mwcbarcelona.com/experiences/gsma-women4tech/.

My hope is that in another three years’ time, we will have seen a significant shift in attitudes, and as well as a more even split in the number of women in senior level positions within the industry. This does of course take time, but also commitment and engagement at board-level. Join us in Barcelona as we continue this conversation and ask how we can pull together as an industry to close the gender divide.

Follow the conversation and have your say: #GSMAW4T

Accenture is the Official Sponsor for the Women4Tech Summit and also Women4Tech Dinner with Supporting Sponsors: HP Ltd., Pinsent Masons and Synchronoss. Other sponsors across the programme include; CBSi, Cisco, Master Card, mBolden, Red Hat, Salesforce and Visa.

Keren Bowman is the Global Content Lead for the Women4Tech Programme – you can contact her at kbowman@gsma.com for more information on how to get involved as a speaker at any of our events in Barcelona, Shanghai and LA.