FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
2 July 2013, Brussels: This year a European partnership led by Brussels-based Zen Digital Europe will award the first-ever European prizes recognising girls and women who have distinguished themselves in digital studies and careers, and organisations contributing to increased participation of girls and women in digital sectors in Europe. The respective awards are destined for Europe’s very first Digital Girl of the Year, Digital Woman of the Year and Digital Impact Organisation of the Year.
In partnership with the Council of European Professional Informatics Societies (CEPIS), DIGITALEUROPE, the European Centre for Women and Technology (ECWT) and European Schoolnet, the three awards enjoy the patronage of Ms. Neelie Kroes, Vice President of the European Commission for the Digital Agenda, who will also present the first award-winners during the Plenary Session of ICT 2013, Europe’s largest ICT event, taking place on 7 November in Vilnius. The awards initiative, officially accepted as a pledge to the Grand Coalition for Digital Skills and Jobs in Europe at the Digital Assembly in June 2013 in Dublin, represents “the tip of the tsunami for driving increased participation of girls and women in Europe’s ICT sector,” according to Kroes.
For VP Kroes, greater participation of women and girls in ICT is a critical factor in addressing Europe’s widening digital skills gap which could result in as many as one million ICT jobs going unfilled by 2015. Bridging this gap is at the heart of the Grand Coalition initiative Kroes launched with three other European Commissioners in March of this year. Regarding the opportunity presented by digitally skilled girls and women, Kroes asks, “why couldn’t half of those jobs be filled by women?”
Ms. Cheryl Miller, Founder of Zen Digital Europe and originator of the awards initiative, says the purpose of the awards is to “bring recognition to girls and women who distinguish themselves as leaders in digitally-oriented studies and careers in Europe,” areas where representation and visibility of women is abysmally low, Miller says. Today, everything from music production to scientific research has a digital component, so according to Miller, “it’s essential that we get the messages out that ICT isn’t just for boys, and that girls and women have a critical role in bridging Europe’s ICT skills gap in many strategic sectors.” To recognise girls and women who are already positively impacting Europe’s digital landscape, and the organisations helping them to do that, is, in Miller’s words, “an important first step to empower women to help close the digital skills gap.”
Says Ms. Fiona Fanning, Secretary General of CEPIS, the Council of European Professional Informatics Society and partner to the Awards, “in a field where women are underrepresented, increasing their share of digital jobs is crucial to close the digital jobs gap and to safeguard Europe’s growth.” She adds, “as the leading network of informatics professionals in Europe, CEPIS is committed to promoting gender equity in ICT and is pleased to be a founding partner of these awards.”
Ms. Eva Fabry, Director of the European Centre for Women and Technology says the following of the awards: “Hollywood has its Oscars. Television has its Emmys. Europe has its Digital Woman, Digital GirI and Digital Impact of the Year Award.” Ms. Fabry expresses a hope that all who receive the awards will sense themselves equally deserving of the recognition these other awards bestow, because according to Ms. Fabry, these awards reflect “a sincere wish to celebrate female talent, excellence and innovation in ICT in Europe.”
About Zen Digital Europe
Created in 2008, Zen Digital is a global leader in initiatives to get more girls and women in STEM studies and careers, with a particular focus on ICT. Through its mission of “bridging the gender gap and the digital divide,” Zen Digital actively contributes to realising the Grand Coalition for digital skill and jobs in Europe and the Europe 2020 vision of smart, sustainable and inclusive growth.
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