Only 19 per cent of the tech workforce are women as the industry continues to be male-dominated and while the gender imbalance is improving, an International Women’s Day event, hosted by Pink magazine and Gracy’s, will show there is still a long way to go to achieve equal representation.

Gender equality in the IT industry will take centre stage at the Times of Malta celebration of IWD 2023 on Wednesday, March 8 as technical roles continue to be considered “less feminine”.

The anticipated yearly ladies’ networking lunch and talk – now an established date on the IWD calendar at Gracy’s Arts and Supper Club in Valletta – will include a panel discussion with female experts in the field of technology.

Representatives from BMIT, KPMG Digital Solutions, Malta Enterprise, Malta Gaming Authority, MeDirect and MITA will be inspired by the theme of IWD 2023 – ‘DigitALL: Innovation and technology for gender equality’.

Focused on how technology and education in the digital age can help the empowerment of women and girls worldwide, the global theme will also explore the impact of the digital gender gap on widening economic and social inequalities.

Samantha Rowe-Beddoe from Gracy’s Arts and Supper Club, which is co-hosting the International Women’s Day event together with Pink.Samantha Rowe-Beddoe from Gracy’s Arts and Supper Club, which is co-hosting the International Women’s Day event together with Pink.

These are growing increasingly evident in the context of digital skills and access to technologies, with women being left behind as the result of the digital gender divide.

But Alexia Anastasi from KPMG Digital Solutions will also focus on the “good news”, listing the “many things that can be done to support women working in the tech sector and encourage more to pursue careers in this diverse and rewarding industry”.

Anastasi will discuss how better awareness can close the gap and why it is healthy to have a balanced mix of genders within the sector.

She maintains that showcasing more female tech role models can inspire future generations to choose a career in the field, while more encouragement is required in the early years of education to create the interest and pathways to this line of work.

“Educators should discuss the advantages of working in tech and encourage gender equality in these subjects to enable girls to make an informed decision about what they want to study in school,” Anastasi said in the run-up to the event.

The key to reducing gender biases and stereotyping is to ensure that women are always part of the conversation

Head of Authorisations at the Malta Gaming Authority, Christabel Calleja, who heads the department responsible for vetting and approving licence applications, will be throwing some more figures into the ring in relation to the digital gender divide.

She will be discussing why women worldwide are 20 per cent less likely to hold a senior leadership position in the mobile communication industry and make up only eight per cent of the investing partners at the top 100 venture capital firms.

Similar patterns are evident in the gaming industry, where most key roles are generally held by men, Calleja says ahead of her intervention on Wednesday, adding it was encouraging that half the MGA’s senior management committee was female.

Attendees at a previous Pink ladies’ lunch.Attendees at a previous Pink ladies’ lunch.

Perception is an issue, Calleja points out, with women perceived to be less technically competent than men.

“The key to reducing gender biases and stereotyping is to ensure that women are always part of the conversation.”

Jessica Dingli, product manager within the MeDirect tech team, will focus on how females integrate within a predominantly male sector; while Marica Xuereb, Mita’s strategic initiatives manager, will draw on her 27-year career in the field and offer visibility on what the government’s IT agency is doing to promote women in ICT, one of the fastest growing industries.

Vanessa Psaila from BMIT will discuss with panel facilitator Trudy Kerr, from The She Word, how the modern workplace has helped gender equality, with remote work, prompted by the pandemic, creating an equal playground for all employees.

“Technology has offered greater flexibility, promoting diversity and inclusion; it has supported family-friendly policies over and above maternity and paternity leave,” Psaila says. The result is a more “equitable and inclusive” workplace.

The ladies’ lunch and talk aims to acknowledge and celebrate the achievements of women working in the tech industry to inspire positive changes and encourage more females to choose a career in this male-dominated industry.

The event is being supported by BMIT, Floreal, KPMG Digital Solutions, MAC Cosmetics, Malta Enterprise, Malta Gaming Authority, MeDirect, MITA, OK Fashion, The She Word, Farsons Direct, Islands8, Nutritional Power, SPN and The London Essence Co.

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