DLI Update – March 2016

March has been a roller-coaster of a month at the Digital Leadership Institute. It roared in like a lion celebrating International Women’s Day with DLI’s favorite Belgian and international stakeholders, and went out like a lamb seeking community with loved ones near and far in the wake of the Brussels tragedies that DLI Founder, Ms. Cheryl Miller and so many others experienced first-hand.  In between, we advocated for greater participation of women in media, peacekeeping and global leadership at the annual Commission on the Status of Women in New York, and brushed up our expertise portfolio with Ms. Rosanna Kurrer–DLI Cofounder’s graduation from a Certified Trainer in Mobile Educational Computing program at MIT.  Herewith you can find details about it all shared with, as Cheryl wrote, the expression of our heartfelt grief for the people whose losses are so much greater than ours, and a wish for continued vigilance on all our part in the work for peace.

The DLI Board and Executive Team are actively involved in initiatives with partners and stakeholders around the world that promote ESTEAM* leadership by girls and women. Find out below about our work in March 2016, learn here about future activities we are involved in, and visit our calendar for upcoming events that DLI is organising. *entrepreneurship, science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics

EP2 March – European Parliament Media Conference “Women Refugees & Asylum-seekers in Europe” (Brussels): In celebration of International Women’s Day 2016, Ms. Cheryl Miller, DLI Founder, moderated a conference for European media on the subject of “Women Refugees and Asylum-seekers in Europe,” which took place at the European Parliament in Brussels on 2 March.

us seal7 March – US Embassy to the Kingdom of Belgium Roundtable on “Civil Society as Change Makers” (Brussels): On 7 March, Ms. Cheryl Miller, DLI Founder,  joined a roundtable on the subject of “Civil Society as Change Makers,” on invitation from her Excellency Denise Campbell Bauer, US Ambassador to the Kingdom of Belgium.

useu8 March – US Mission to the European Union Roundtable on “Empowering Women Entrepreneurs in the Tech Sector” (Brussels):  Ms. Cheryl Miller, DLI Founder, contributed to a moderated roundtable on the subject of “Empowering Women Entrepreneurs in the Tech Sector,” hosted by the US permanent mission to the European Union in Brussels in celebration of International Women’s Day 2016.   The event was part of a pan-European initiative to promote greater participation of women in tech on the part of the US Commercial Service in Europe and led by the honorable Penny Pritzker, US Secretary of Commerce.  Photos of the Brussels event, attended by leading policy players in Belgium and Europe, may be found here.

codeweek-badge10 March – European Code Week Ambassadors Meeting (Brussels):  On 10 March, Ms. Rosanna Kurrer, DLI Cofounder, joined the annual meeting of European Code Week Ambassadors as 2016 Ambassador for Belgium.

GSMA_logo15 March – GSMA Mobile Meeting Series “Digital economy: Balancing inclusion, opportunities, and access for women” (Brussels):  On 15 March, Ms. Cheryl Miller, DLI Founder, contributed to a GSMA Mobile Meeting breakfast on the topic of  “Digital economy: Balancing inclusion, opportunities, and access for women,” report for which may be found here.

Facebook18 March – Facebook Roundtable on “Women’s Online Safety” (New York, New York):  Ms. Cheryl Miller, DLI Founder, contributed to an international roundtable on the topic of  “Women’s Online Safety,” that took place at Facebook New York HQ as part of the 60th Meeting of the Commission on the Status of Women.

gamag19 March – GAMAG Europe & North America Panel at 60th Meeting of the Commission on the Status of Women (New York): Ms. Cheryl Miller, DLI Founder, moderated a Global Alliance on Gender and Media panel at the 60th Meeting of the Commission on the Status of Women, that took place at the United Nations in New York, on 19 March.


Be sure to visit our Calendar, Upcoming Activities page, and sign up for the DLI Newsletter in order to keep up with DLI events and activities!


2015 European Ada Award-winners

On 14 December in Luxembourg, the Digital Leadership Institute and its partners – the Council for European Professional Informatics Societies, DIGITALEUROPE, the European Centre for Women and Technology, and European SchoolNetannounced winners of the 2015 European Ada Awards, recognising outstanding girls and women in digital studies and careers in Europe, and the organisations who support them.  The 2015 Ada Awards ceremony took place at the opening for a high-level eskills and entrepreneurship event as part of the Luxembourg presidency of the Council of the European Union.

2015 European Ada Award winners and finalists were recognised in the following categories:

NiamhScanlonWinner – 13 years old:  Niamh from Ireland

Niamh, 13, learned to code at CoderDojo when she was nine and she loves to build websites and apps that help people. When she was 11 she developed an award-winning app to help the drivers of electric cars. For three years Niamh has mentored at CoderDojo in Dublin City University, where she helps other young people – and particularly girls – to learn how to create with technology. She is a member of the Digital Youth Council in Ireland and she would like to see more coding and technology taught in schools.

YasminWinner – 14 years old:  Yasmin from England

Yasmin is a fourteen year old who has been programming for six years. She regularly builds projects with the Raspberry Pi computer, and volunteers to run workshops for young people to learn how to code using the Pi. As well as this, she runs a programming club during her school lunch breaks for younger pupils, to hopefully increase the uptake of Computer Science at her school.

Winner:  Janneke Niessen, Improve Digital, from the NetherlandsFoto janneke niessen

Janneke is a female serial technology entrepreneur who, next to her role of Chief Innovation Officer at Improve Digital, also makes big efforts to help other entrepreneurs and is a strong advocate for women in tech. She is mentor for startups, angel investor and regularly speaks at events to share her experience in building a high-growth international technology company. She is co-initiator of Inspiring Fifty, that makes female role models in technology more visible. She recently published a novel for young girls (10-14) to create a role model for them and show them how great and fun technology is and how many possibilities it offers.

First Runner-Up:  Monique Morrow, Cisco, from SwitzerlandMonique Morrow

Monique Morrow is the Chief Technology Officer for New Frontiers at Cisco that uniquely focuses on empowering women through the intersection of research, economics and technology execution.  Her current focus is spearheading an Internet of Women movement as an opportunity for women worldwide to collectively shape the future of the Internet powered by a SHE (Supercritical Human Elevated) technology platform.

Second Runner-Up:  Nicole Wajer, Cisco, from the NetherlandsNWajer

In her work, Nicole supports account teams and partners that need her technical expertise.  She is passionate about the Internet of Things (IoT), IPv6 and Security, and is currently playing with new technology e.g Sensors in her own home.  Nicole is a Champion of Change for her passionate work in the Industrial Automation space, and is a frequent blogger and attendee at the four annual Dutch Hacker Conferences.

vhtograbWinner:  VHTO, The Netherlands:
VHTO, the Dutch national expert organisation on girls/women and science/technology, makes an effort in many different ways to increase the involvement of women and girls in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). Every year VHTO organises the Dutch Girlsday together with 300 IT and technical companies. In 2015, 9,525 girls participated! To increase the participation of girls in Computer Science specifically, VHTO created the Digivita program for girls (age 8-18) which took place in in six cities in 2014, and carried out the Digivita Summer Camp in 2015. In 2014 VHTO reached 55,210 Dutch children through projects in primary and secondary education.

TravisFoundation-1 Runner-Up:  Travis FoundationRailsgirls Summer of Code, Germany: 

Travis Foundation runs Rails Girls Summer of Code for the third year in a row now – providing stipends for women all over the world to work on Open Source projects. The grassroots initiative is a hands-on solution for the problem of women being underrepresented in Open Source and Tech in general. With Rails Girls Summer of Code we are not only changing women’s careers, diversifying Tech Communities and building safer environments for women in Tech – we are also creating the much-needed role models in IT, so that future generations can follow suit.

Congratulations to all the 2015 European Ada Awards nominees, finalists and winners in every category, and thank you to our Award Partners and supporters of the 2015 European Ada AwardsAmazon Web Services, Facebook, Google, HP and SAP!  Please contact us with questions or inquiries on how to  support the Ada Awards and the larger mission of the Digital Leadership Institute.

eskills logo_final2015

©2013-2015 Digital Leadership Institute, asbl/vzw
Place Van Meyelplein 24
1040 Brussels, Belgium

Hillary and Angela, Meet Jessica!

Equality Over Here–Equality Over There
In Europe, we can talk seriously about building a “smart, sustainable and inclusive” society without a smirk or sidelong glance from anyone. The “knowledge society” and the full contribution of a rich, diverse human capital is a widely recognized strength of a modern, united Europe. For this reason, there is a clear basis for formal dialogue on the topic of gender parity and greater empowerment of women — economically, politically and socially. In a formalistic top-down sense, there is reason therefore to even expect ground-breaking leadership by Europe on the topic of gender equality and women’s rights.  This is already evidenced by the milestone passage of the so-called “quota directive,” requiring at least forty percent representation of women on non-executive boards of all publicly-traded European companies.

On the other hand, class, gender and ethnic divides run deep in the old world.  High-level decisions are still largely made by a handful of “haves” and not necessarily in the interest of members of lower economic, social or political status. Change is slow and incremental, and universal directives, even the most noble, must be ratified by twenty-eight sovereign countries each with its own independent and distinct national priorities, culture, history and language(s). This means that any enlightened policies, including on gender parity, still must stand the test of local politics and traditions that have existed and persisted for literally centuries. Gender stereotypes are so ingrained in Europe that they almost typify some cultures, which also means that achieving gender equality on a grassroots level in practice will require a long, arduous and hard fought struggle that, in some senses, is only just beginning.


The Most Equal States?
On the other hand, quick and even far-reaching popular support for gender equality may emerge sooner in the US, as is already somewhat in evidence in this single domestic market with one dominant language, relatively affluent socioeconomic circumstances, and national media, including digital, that reaches almost all households.  After a certain “tipping point,” uptake of popular grassroots movements, like that in support of gender equality and women’s rights, can be quick and widespread in the US.  Whether such a tipping point has actually been reached for gender parity is certainly up for discussion. But it is clear that the open – sometimes violentdebate currently taking place on this subject, even globally, is dominated by actors, messaging and media, online and off, largely originating in the US.

The Interwebs
Regardless of how one measures progress on gender equality and women’s rights, this top-down leadership and bottom-up populist support are equally critical success factors.  To that end, both the US and Europe have important roles to play, as does the internet, where advances achieved on gender parity can be shared, replicated and scaled worldwide. For that reason, no matter where the struggle is waged, a new and important development is now taking place at the convergence of the battles for gender equality and net neutrality, where it may be argued that a free and open internet has replaced diamonds as a girl’s “best friend.”

Media:  The Silver Bullet
Though there is no silver bullet for achieving gender parity worldwide, popular media may present the single greatest opportunity today for positively impacting cultural norms to increase gender equality and promote women’s rights. Geena Davis famously said “if she can see it, she can be it,” and effectively raised the bar on portrayal of women and girls in popular culture, thus commencing a shift in role depictions in storytelling that may impact gender parity the world over.

As the home of Hollywood, of new content powerhouses like Netflix, and of  internet big brothers like Facebook and Google, the US enjoys unprecedented influence around the world via its unique brand of popular culture — which is consumed with almost equal voraciousness in Moscow, Russia as in Moscow, Idaho. This brings with it a clear responsibility:  The US must also begin to champion gender equality through better and more portrayal of girls and women in its own popular media, and it must equally demand such leadership by other actors — fictional and real — across the globe.

Step Up US!
US leadership on this double mission holds unparalleled promise for impacting the dialogue on gender equality around the world for the better, and it would squarely place the US on footing with Europe in its claims to an inclusive and diverse “knowledge society.”  Given the snails pace at which this topic has advanced to date, such a change — smirks and sidelong glances aside — would be welcome as long overdue.

*Featured Image:  Jessica Jones, Marvel superhero and subject of eponymous Netflix television series.

DLI Meets Sheryl Sandberg on Women in Tech

Facebook & DLI Meeting
Sandberg Meeting in Brussels: Tessa Lyons, Erika Mann, Nicola Mendelsohn, Janine de Keersmaecker, Sheryl Sandberg, Kristen Jorna, Cheryl Miller, Ann Mettler, Renate Nikolay, Anne Hoerée, Nadia Calvino, Julia Harrison, & Ditte Juul Joergensen

On 29 June 2015 in Brussels, DLI board members, Ms. Cheryl Miller and Ms. Janine de Keersmaeker, joined Ms. Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook COO and founder of LeanIn.org, and a small group of Brussels policy-makers to discuss increasing participation of girls and women in technological sectors.  In her remarks, Ms. Sandberg underscored Facebook’s engagement in Europe where it employs 1500 people and provides a platform for businesses that creates another 140,000 jobs.  “In Europe, less than 1 in 3 tech workers —  and less than 1 in 5 tech graduates — are women,” said Sandberg. “This isn’t a European problem,” she said. “It’s an everywhere problem.”

Facebook is a long-standing sponsor of the Ada Awards – an initiative of the Digital Leadership Institute which recognises outstanding girls and women in digital studies and careers, and the organisations who support them.  The European Ada Awards were launched in 2013 under patronage of then-European Commission Vice President responsible for the Digital Agenda, Ms. Neelie Kroes, as a pledge to the Grand Coalition for Digital Skills and Jobs in Europe.