The GSMA will ramp up its ‘Connected Women’ drive and work with its members to attract female talent to the mobile industry to combat a decline of women in the European tech sector.
Vicky Sleight, senior director of GSMA Connected Women (pictured), told Mobile of the increasing ‘digital skills gap’ that was occurring for women, adding that her organisation was working closely with members such as mobile operators, manufacturers and policy makers to boost the number of female employees in the upper echelons of mobile and ICT in general.
The worldwide authority in mobile set up its ‘Girls in ICT’ day as part of a wider Connected Women initiative to show a group of local schoolgirls that a career in technology is a viable and exciting option.
Speaking from the event in London’s Tech City, Sleight told Mobile: ‘Today is very important because there is a digital skills gap and we want to inspire young girls into tech. By 2025, 60% of the wealth will sit with women, so actually, women need to be designing these products and services because mobile is at the centre of this digital revolution.
‘In Europe women make up 30% of the technology workforce, but that number is declining. The GSMA is working not just with the operators, but with the manufacturers, suppliers, policy makers and educators to show how tech organisations can attract and attain its female talent.’
Sleight added that it was important for key organisations in the industry to show girls and women that it was an ‘exciting’ place to be. She was joined by GSMA director general Anne Bouverot who addressed the girls in attendance.
She said: ‘There is much more to be done to encourage girls to pursue learning in subjects such as engineering and computer science, which open up possibilities of working in exciting careers in technology.
‘Mobile is a particularly dynamic and vibrant area right now and it can also open up career opportunities across a range of industry sectors, for example, creating connected cars, advancing mobile commerce or even designing the master plan for a smart city.’
Men occupy the majority of the top jobs in the UK mobile sector, although female influence is gathering pace. Alexandra Zagury was named as BlackBerry’s UK and Ireland managing director and vice-president last November, while Cindy Rose and Alix Pryde attained two influential roles at Vodafone as consumer managing director and head of consumer services and innovation respectively.
A spokesperson for Vodafone said: ‘Increasing the diversity of our employee base is critical to ensuring we have a broad and varied pool of future leaders. We recruit about 50 graduates a year and we have a target to employ 50% female candidates. The breakdown for our latest intake was 52% female to 48% male.’
Operator rival O2 has a number of initiatives to encourage the progression of women such as its Women in Leadership Programme, its internal Women’s Network and its flexible working practices for women with families.