UN body: Tech sector needs girls

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[/caption] A high-level dialogue held at New York?s Institute of International Education and hosted by the International Telecommunication Union, the UN-specialized agency for information and communication technology, identified misguided school-age career counseling, the popular media?s ?geek? image of the technology field, a dearth of inspirational female role models, and a lack of supportive frameworks in the home and workplace as factors that, together, tend to dissuade talented girls from pursuing a tech career. Inspired by the tremendous dedication of NGOs, universities, government agencies, industry and others around the world in organizing ?Girls in ICT Day? events, participants sketched out a basic blueprint for more successful approaches to attracting school-age girls to the fast-evolving technology field, and agreed to work together to change attitudes and boost female tech enrolment rates. In his welcoming remarks to an invited audience of over 200 gender, education and technology experts, ITU Secretary-General Hamadoun Tour? said: ?Over the coming decade, there are expected to be two million more ICT jobs than there are professionals to fill them. This is an extraordinary opportunity for girls and young women ? in a world where there are over 70 million unemployed young people.? Tour? emphasized the need to cast aside outdated attitudes that are keeping young girls from considering technology as a career option. ?ICT careers are not ?too hard? for girls. ICT careers are not ?unfeminine?. And ICT careers are certainly not ?boring?. Encouraging girls into the technology industry will create a positive feedback look ? in turn creating inspiring new role models for the next generation.? The event also featured very special guest Joanne O?Riordan, one of only seven people in the world with Total Amelia, a congenital birth condition causing the absence of all four limbs. ITU flew O?Riordan to New York from her native Cork in Ireland to take part in the event, so that she could give her perspective on the vital role of accessible technology in personal empowerment. [caption id="attachment_1441" align="aligncenter" width="450" caption="O?Riordan shares a humorous moment with Moderator Paul Conneally "][/caption] In an inspirational speech, the 16-year-old, who celebrated her birthday in NY just prior to the event, told the audience her motto in life had always been ?no limbs, no limits?. ?I use technology in all aspects of my life . . . I was just one year old when I first began to explore the use of technology with our old computer. I figured out how to use it by simply moving my ?hand? and chin at a faster speed. Today I can type 36 words a minute and for someone with no limbs, I think that?s an incredible achievement,? she said. O?Riordan concluded by throwing out an ambitious challenge to the industry leaders present at the debate and the thousands of technology experts watching the event via global webcast, asking them to work on creating a robotic system that could help her and others with disabilities or age-related problems live richer, fuller lives. ?I?m asking the women here, who are the leading women in their fields, to start doing what I do every day ? think outside the box. To think of ways and means to make technology more accessible to the people who really need it. Women are better than men at most things, so why not technology too?? ITU?s Tour? closed the event with a call for partners to collaborate with ITU on a three-year ?Tech Needs Girls? campaign focused around four ?Es?: empowerment, equality, education and employment. ?This is a tremendous opportunity for us all, working together as partners, to make a real difference,? he said.]]>

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