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IGF 2017 - Day 3 - Room XXIII - WS212 Navigating Gender and Youth Challenges

 

The following are the outputs of the real-time captioning taken during the Twelfth Annual Meeting of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) in Geneva, Switzerland, from 17 to 21 December 2017. Although it is largely accurate, in some cases it may be incomplete or inaccurate due to inaudible passages or transcription errors. It is posted as an aid to understanding the proceedings at the event, but should not be treated as an authoritative record. 

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>> BRUNA SANTOS:  Hi, everyone.  Good morning.  Good morning guys.  We are starting now the session so if everybody could please take a seat.  Good morning, everyone.  My name is Bruna and I am one of the ISOC ambassadors ‑‑ IGF ambassadors of this year.  And I am extremely happy to be facilitating this session on gender issues for women called Navigating Gender and Youth Challenges:  Telling Stories About Women, Technology and Creation. 

The whole idea of this session is to promote an exchange between generations.  And to have a really nice talk on how we perceive technologies and relate to it.  We are being joined by these amazing speakers around me.  We are starting with ‑‑ I'll introduce them briefly and jump into the first part of the talk.  So we have with us Barbara Wanner.  We also have Poornima Heshadharani, one of the Internet Society's 25 Under 25 Awardees.  We have Jackie Treiber from ICANN Wiki.  Jennifer Chung, director of Corporate Knowledge.  And Louise Marie Hurel. 

So I will start this talk by giving the floor to Barbara to talk about some bridging generations and how women enter the stem technology field.

>> BARBARA WANNER:  Thank you, Bruna.  Can everybody hear me?  It is a pleasure to be here today and I can tell today that I'm the oldest person in this room if not at the IGF in general, but I hope to share some of my experiences with you and hopefully that will be a benefit to you as you move on in your careers at ICT. 

In addressing this topic I would like to draw upon some of the findings of a workshop that my organization at the Internet Governance Forum last year on bridging the gender digital divide.  And I would say the most important finding from that workshop is that there isn't one as we say silver bullet to bridging generations or bridging the gender divide, that addressing this challenge requires a holistic approach. 

There is a role for governments to play in terms of opening digital doors for you.  There is a role for business and other stakeholders to fill the gap and supplement or complement what governments cannot do.  And probably most important there's a role for you.  And I'll delve into this a little bit more when I talk more about my experience and I would like to suggest that women and youth also are obliged to think creatively about how to use and leverage what you have both as a professional to become engaged in the digital ecosystem.  Let's talk about what government can do. 

I think fundamentally a government must provide a good basis.  It can be even as simple and health services.  You have to be healthy and connected to become digitally active.  Governments have a responsibility to follow up on policies ensuring equal rights for women.  In this respect I think another important finding from the floor is one of the largest barriers to many women and youth in terms of entering the digital system has to do with culture.  That's where a government can't have on the books policies that ensure these rights.  They have to follow up and see that that the laws have been able to transcend cultural mores. 

I have been very inspired by what I've observed among the U.S. counsel for international business members in the ICT sector.  The various initiatives aimed at developing stem skills and create getting young girls involved in the digital economy and coding. 

Going to the heart of my topic though I would say that business also is keenly aware of the importance of enabling generational exchange as a means of bringing more youth and women into the digital ecosystem.  I've had the pleasure helping organize what we (echo in audio) last year in June of 2016 in Cancun. 

Again, I was so inspired, this attracted students from throughout Mexico throughout Latin America.  I would say the average age was anywhere between 18 and 20.  They brought their passion for coding.  They brought their intellectual understanding of computer science and they applied it to societal needs.  There were various categories of prizes we award.  For example the team and of course the students were divided into teams, the team that won developed an application that enables a user to quickly and automatically provide all medical information to emergency response personal when calling for an ambulance. 

As was explained to me in Mexico, there were a lot of we call them crank calls in America, a lot of falls calls where you call the ambulance and it was a joke.  But with this app you can send all the relevant emergency information to the emergency responders if you say my grandmother is having a heart attack they would know it was the truth and send an ambulance right away.  At least half of the members of this team were women. 

As I say this was just a very inspiring example for me of how you can take your understanding of computer science of coding and apply it to solving a real problem but the important point from this hack‑a‑thon story is that it not only enabled the youth to demonstrate their technical expertise, but it enabled a generational exchange of wisdom.

One aspect of this hack‑a‑thon was each team got coaching on how to pitch an application.  Do you know that term?  Basically how to sell the application to a potential investor.  So this requires an understanding of good communication skills and how to present your innovation in a way that makes it an attractive financial investment for an Angel investor so that this in particular was a very engaging element of the competition for the head of the U.S. government delegation who was a technologist. 

I think the youth insight in terms of what others could share with them in terms of how you sell your product and the younger generation taught all of us about what we need to know and what you can do to solve societal problems.

And then leading into this I would say the final element of what I see as a holistic approach to bridging the generations, getting more women and youth involved, involves your role.  This is where I would like to share my story about reinvent can yourself.  I think it requires you to look inside yourself and understand what your inherent talents are.  If you have a capability, and affinity for science and math, it makes eminent sense for you to study coding and computer science. 

The point I want to make from my story is you do not have a technical background to enter the ICT field.  If you have strong verbal skills, strong communication skills, you can leverage those.  For example, going back to this hack‑a‑thon exercise to pitch the invention, to use your communication skills to sell that application.  The coder that you worked with may be a brilliant scientist but may not be able to express the brilliance of his invention.  But because you are verbally capable you can sell it. 

I came from a background that focused on Japan Asia policy for probably well over a decade I was with an organization called Japan economic institute and I wrote about Japanese politics and U.S. Japan security relations.  In the year 2000 the Japanese government cut off the funding, so I was out of a job and that began my period, I would say my 5 to 7 years of reinvention. 

From there I used my Japan background to join a trade association that had largely Japanese companies so that was the Japan connection.  But in joining this trade association I learned about consensus building among businesses that have very different interests and I learned about how to work with the corporate sector. 

From there I had an opportunity to join an organization devoted to public diplomacy called the east/west center.  I worked with them leveraging the experience, I represented that organization on capitol Hill where they got a lot of their funding from a state department budget.  That organization suffered a budget cut.  Too.  What does it tell you?  I have bad luck, I guess.  But that pushed me forward in my reinvention. 

From there I went on to use the conference planning skills I had developed at the east/west center, used the trade association skills I had developed and used some of my understanding of Asia regional organizations to join the Coalition of service industries.  And that really opened the door for me to ICT.  So again that's what I would say to you is there's no barrier to your entering the ICT sector but what you would to do is take a good luck inside yourself and understand what your talents are, how you can leverage those talents. 

But if somebody my age can do this career intervention really the sky is the limit for you.  Take what you have been God given and blessed with, take the experience you have, perhaps in internships, perhaps if you have the pleasure and thrill of being in a hack‑a‑thon, take all of that experience and know that you can use it to find your own way into the ICT sector.  Why don't I leave it there and defer to other panelists.

>> BRUNA SANTOS:  Thank you, Barbara.  We will have Jen join us.  What barriers do we face, has she faced so far, and what she thinks should be done to empower and engage young women in the use of ICTs. 

>> JENNIFER CHUNG:  Thank you for that kind introduction.  My name is Jennifer Chung.  We are a registry, we are the registry and we oversee the policies that governs this particular registry.  I want to start with a personal anecdote.  I did not enroll in any stem class and yet I'm here sitting on this panel talking to you about this. 

I'm actually from a law background but I guess growing up I ‑‑ there was a lot of more traditional stereotyped gender roles in my part of the world which is Asia‑Pacific where girls really weren't encouraged to enroll in stem or it wasn't seen to be something that girls would be so interested in.

And I think that is probably the very first thing I wants to talk about is traditionally it's been that way but gender roles then and gender norms and all this definition has been changing.  We see it every day.  You see it in the news it's changing.

A few years ago, maybe two years ago at ICANN I was encouraged to hear from a presenter, I forget her name from India, she told the audience that stem education the enrollment in girls has surpassed boys.  I think Barbara touched on this, what you need in the beginning is the first barrier is to actually have girls, women, in educated in this field in stem courses to be able to go into careers that would be in this industry, be in technology. 

That's not always the case as Barbara did say and also for myself as well but I think education is extremely, extremely important and extremely empowering.

The second barrier I really wanted to talk about is afterwards what is there after education?  You want to go into a career path, right?  So career opportunities also I think right now a lot of CEO's a lot of technology companies, a lot of corporations realize we need to give women and girls more chances. 

It needs to be on the basis when you're looking at a pool of candidates you need to make sure you're actually hiring from something that's complete diverse gender wise, orientation wise, racially also.  But it's important to think about after you have this education the career path you would then go into.

And in our ICT fields in our technology fields and Internet governance traditionally as well you see fewer women in these positions.  It's a pity because when you look around now, you see that there could be more women role models in this area which could then inspire young girls coming up saying hey I can do that too.  I can be an astronaut or a CEO of a tech company. 

I did some thinking this morning and thinking who in our field right now can be considered these role models for these girls coming up.  You have Cathy Brown, she's great.  The UN MAG chair is not from the government sector, she's from civil society.  Another person is Alissa Cooper.  I don't know if you've heard of this name. 

Maybe it's the first time you're hearing of her, but she was the chair of the ICT which was the stewardship transition coordination group, so she was heading this coordination group that brought the proposal to the U.S. government to transfer the stewardship to the multistakeholder community and that is extremely important.  And she's gone on now to chair the ITF.  She's a very young woman as well.  She's someone that little girls could be like hey, she can do it ‑‑ I think she's extremely young, I believe she's in her early 30s.  She's done so much, I can also do this, too.

Talking a little bit more about what I do for work for DotAsia, we do a lot of capacity building programs.  One of our flagship initiatives is called NetMission.Asia.  We do recruit from the tertiary institutions in Hong Kong.  And this year I was blown away by the applications.  We received over 150.  And most of them actually came from women. 

When we had people come in to interview we were like we had to stop and think about we might actually have to try to make it look a little more balanced and look at the male candidates again to see if we can actually make it a little more balanced.  We were like this is a good problem to have.  And they're bright, young students. 

So one of the questions I asked one of the applicants was you're not actually studying in a technology field right now, you're not doing computer science or engineering, why are you so interested in Internet governance?  And she said the Internet is for everyone.  This is so empowering for girls to be able to go on and learn about everything else that she was telling me she came from a family of three brothers.  I can learn on everything they can learn on and this created a lot of opportunities for me, this is why I want to join this program and see if I can do local initiatives this way.

I thought this was really encouraging as well.  I think traditionally coming from Asia girls weren't encouraged so much to speak up and speak their mind and speak their opinion.  I think the tide right now is changing.  I think we need to have the ability to express ourselves especially in the ICT field.  Another important initiative we support at DotAsia is called tech women at DotAsia this.  Was started in Afghanistan.  Another country not traditionally known for being very accommodating to women's interests.  What tech women at DotAsia does is teach basic ICT skills to women and give them opportunities to network and connect with other women entrepreneurs in the region and they can then start small and medium business enterprises together. 

The pilot program I believe was last year.  You can find out more from their booth upstairs in the IGF village but they're expanding to south Asia which is not traditionally known for women as rights and concerns.  They have gotten a good response which is something I'm very pleased to talk about and tell you guys about.  And the last initiative I wanted to tell you about is lady boss DotAsia. 

Even the name sounds great, right?  Lady boss.  Girl boss.  That makes a lot of sense to me.  It's a movement that was founded by three women entrepreneurs in Singapore.  They do workshops to women just starting out.  I think for anybody thinking about starting their own business there's so many barriers in this initial process.  With the added dimension of being a woman I think it could be very daunting, so this is an expanded network of women entrepreneurs across Asia to be able to share their stories, share their best practices and any difficulties there would be kind of a network of support which is really important I think.  I think I might throw it back to Bruna for new. 

>> BRUNA SANTOS:  Thank you, Jennifer.  We will see Jacqueline Treiber.  The proposed question is how do women engage with and in the Internet to provide meaningful insights on the way we perceive our relation with technology.  Jackie.

>> JACKIE TREIBER:  Thank you, Bruna.  I'm going to have to lean over a little bit here.  Hopefully I'm not blocking the camera.  I took this question and decided that the best way women would potentially engage in tech in a meaningful way is through our ability to build histories and narratives.  And that happens through representation.  And I decided that I was going to look at an analogous platform much like the one that I work on.  I'm with ICANN Wiki which is essentially the Wikipedia of Internet governance. 

I wanted to know more about the gender parody when men and women.  And they completed a survey on this difference.  I think right now we are at the time of the survey the number of female editors, those contributing and making edits to Wikipedia was 8 to 16%.  I want to read from their survey where they that you can about why that may be.  They go ahead and say we can attract women editors partly by introducing tools and features by making editing simple for everyone but especially for women since they're less likely to code and program.  We have classroom initiatives.  These efforts tend to bring in more representative proportion of men and women contributors.

So while I think it's admirable that it puts this information front and center, I pound that the paragraph that I just read was actually coded with a lot of interesting slightly sexist language.  I thought that ‑‑ so the assumption is that women are attracted to Wikipedia because there's a technological barrier, they're not programmers, they're not coders.  Yet earlier in their survey they described the changing demographic of their male editors.  They described them in their early 30s, computer savvy but not necessarily a programmer.  On the one hand they speculate that not having any program experience as a male editor is not having a barrier where the same logic to women does not apply. 

Programming inexperience is the specific reason Wikipedia assumes women are not editing in higher numbers.  Yes, they're trying to be solutions oriented but in the way they're describing why women are editing it's almost a little pandering, a little sexist.  It then went on to ask how does this change, how does editorship and representation of articles in themselves change on Wikipedia?  So I looked and found in 2013 about four friends got together basically out of the ruins of the survey and built something called art in feminism. 

They went ahead and took that to build edit‑a‑thons which is where we get people to (feedback) that's something they realize is not only where we are missing female editors, you're missing content on women who are creating artists, et cetera.

So they centralize our space in the moment in New York.  They developed the edit‑a‑thon and basically got together a group of women from different backgrounds.  In their words they were challenging one of the ways women are silenced which is the preservation of information.  Our ability to be participate in the information is effectively a way to silence us.

So since 2014 the feminism organization held over 500 events worldwide in 175 locations.  Estimated 2500 participants joined force to create 2,000 new articles.  These referred as cisgender, trans agenda female artists throughout history.  I went ahead and chose media Wiki and Wikipedia because it's the same platform that my work functions on and we chronicled the inner workings of Internet governance. 

Our project started in 2005 to sort of illuminate the third wave of new TLD's.  It contained over 6,000 articles.  So for better or worse there's no way for us to determine our editor demographics without voluntary description on behalf of the editor so unfortunately when you create an account you don't designate your gender.  Like I said for better or worse.

Second to their gender designations within the articles are also voluntary.  I spent time going through our pages and by sight alone I went ahead and gendered some people to get an idea of what our gender demographics are on our site.  Out of the 3,500 personal articles I got about 10% in before I realized that we definitely have more men on our site than we do women. 

And that's a problem I would like to rectify in my work with ICANN Wiki because look at this room, there are a lot of women here who are doing really amazing work including everyone on this panel.  And I really want to make sure the work I'm doing, the site that I helped to manage is representative of the space that we are in. 

So while my research or my work is not necessarily scientifically rigorous I do think that we are working towards building a better gender equity on our site and some of the ways we are doing that is through, sorry, is through a few things.  One of them is that we prepare some material before each ICANN conference and within our quick guides which is a short magazine.  We have chosen to feature I guess mothers of the Internet in each region that we are in.  We noticed that a lot of the language around the invention of the Internet calls people fathers of the Internet. 

There are a lot of talk of the fathers of the Internet but there's not really a lot of talk about the women who really like drove forward the Internet in the early stages so in this article we focus on the women who historically have been involved and are currently getting involved including the next generation of female innovators.  And then second to that I guess second to that I'm actually going to put out a call to action which is that I really hope that everyone in the room is inspired to maybe look around them and either look at their own work or the work of their peers and maybe going to ICANN Wiki, create an account and start writing about the women that you know that are doing this work because, you know, if you look around you, you're surrounded by solidarity.  I hope that you do wish to contribute to our project.  I appreciate it.  Thank you. 

>> BRUNA SANTOS:  Thank you, very much, Jackie.  Moving on to Louise.  Louise will talk about the gender digital divide and the question we posed to her is why is the gender digital divide still so pronounced even though all stakeholders know that it exists. 

>> LOUISE MARIE HUREL:  Hi, everyone.  Thank you, Bruna.  It's a rule honor to be here.  It's a real honor to be on such a great panel, to be sharing this table with amazing women.  And I just would like to share a bit of this story of how we got here, how we set up this amazing talk.  I think we should look at it as a conversation which I think is something that we envision pretty much when we were setting up this panel.

And it all started off in the BPF gender net last year.  We were participating, especially a lot of women from the Youth Observatory.  It was kind of interesting because I myself was there and we were discussing the barriers to access, the gender divide.  And what happened is at a certain moment I questioned myself, okay, so this is pretty much very interesting.  The questions are really good.  But what ‑‑ are we talking about age here, also?  Are we having ‑‑ are we considering the particular issues that affect young women in different regions? 

And through that question we started out opening the Pandora's box in a good sense and exploring the complexities that we envision and that we see when we go deeper into this age barrier.  And what is interesting is that what happened last year we started mapping different initiatives related to how to promote access to women and women in technology over at the BPF.  And we tried to go deeper and map initiatives in Latin America more specifically that would include young women in tech. 

And that was a good exercise to try to do that because we found out that it was pretty hard to get in touch with them.  Either because they were starting out or because they were still in the structuring phase.  And I think that is not bad.  That is good because we are starting to think about these things and we are starting to take action in different levels so in this sense it was really good to have this experience so how do we get here to organizing this panel?  And right afterwards we decided we have to say something about this.  We had to say ‑‑ we have something to say about young women in Latin America and the challenges that we face. 

And we are not coherent.  We don't have the same experience in different countries and we to have voice that in some way.  So we got to the young Latin American women declaration enabling access to empower young women to build an Internet governance.  And this document, although it's a very interesting thing for us to voice our concerns to voice the narratives and we made it anonymous because we wanted to bring narratives. 

And that's the idea of this panel, to not have a barrier between the women that are here and everyone that has such an amazing experience over there.  I think this is just a very nuanced barrier that doesn't exist.  And the idea over here is actually for us to share our experiences and to voice our narratives. 

And I think that's really important because sometimes we are very held to statistics and this is really important but to just share our personal experiences I think there's a very intrinsic value for us to bring that about because sometimes we admire a certain woman that is in a leadership position or we admire our peers and we just don't know how they got there.  We don't know how they struggled through that either professional life, either personal life, either in their families.  And we don't get to hear those stories.

And I think the real battle, I think the real challenges come when we voice these personal narratives.  And we shouldn't be afraid of that, you know.  I think we are here today to do exactly that.  And from my perspective as I said this is just the first step.  I'd say it's a very, very small step but it's a step we are taking.  This panel is supposed to be a living narrative. 

We don't want to think about the obvious relationships of tech and women even though that's really important we don't want to discredit that, but we want to delve deeper and understand the people, understand the stories, understand the complexities.  And I myself I come from Academia and I studied cybersecurity and I started out pretty much liking cybersecurity because of intelligence studies and defense and strategic studies. 

I don't come from a tech background which is interesting also to see like this intersection.  It's not an obvious path so each of us are here.  We come from different backgrounds and that's the beauty of it.

In cybersecurity it pretty much very male‑dominated as security areas normally are.  But I stopped to think about who are my greatest references as Jen was pointing out.  And I also started to think about what are my greatest references in cybersecurity and in Internet governance?  And they are mostly women.  Very knowledgeable, very incredible women that I don't know their stories, but I know that they probably faced ‑‑ to be in the place that they are today and to have gotten to a place where they can actually have some kind of projection in Academia in policy spaces.  They had to pass through very difficult situations as I think most of us have very difficult and challenging situations in our career path. 

And I myself, I got really happy in thinking about this even though the challenges are real.  And coming from cybersecurity and Academia, my class ‑‑I'm a master student and over there most of my peers are women.  They are hard core technologists and that's amazing.  Also on the other hand I coordinate a project on cybersecurity and digital liberties at a think tank over in Brazil. 

And the institute is not focused on cyber, it's more of like peace building, it focuses on social justice.  There's a whole different stem of areas that they treat.  And 80% of the think tank is composed by women.  We even joke between ourselves we have the token males.  It's funny but it's nice to see that, you know, ahead of the cybersecurity team there's me, there's another colleague of mine which is a woman also and we are head of this project.

I think that's the main idea I really wanted to talk about, not necessarily enforcing the gender divide but just looking out there and from a personal perspective just seeing the good things that are out there and the role that we went through to get here doesn't matter from which country we come from, doesn't matter from which social economic reality.  We are striving to get into a place and into a moment where we can be heard and where we cannot be afraid from saying our journey and voicing it.

So I think even though it's very much subjective and I think it's me being very academic here, but I think that's more or less what I wanted to share, just thinking about this as a conversation I think that's if I can say that in one sentence I think that's the whole idea, the lack of a barrier here just us together talking about this.  I think that's the real value of this panel.  Thank you. 

>> BRUNA SANTOS:  Now it's the part in which we are already empowered and discussing Internet more actively.  I'll give the floor to Poornima.  She was one of this year's ‑‑ she was awarded with her project called respect girls on the Internet.  And she will give us more of her perspective on the importance of fighting violence against women online.

>> POORNIMA HESHADHARANI:  Thank you, Bruna.  I will talk about cyber safety and why we should make Internet a safe place for women in the general context also I'll give you insight on what is happening in Sri Lanka.  So I think that we shouldn't talk about Internet safety specifically because it should be like a default thing because Internet is anywhere extension of the real world and we are talking about safety at a young age so why aren't we talking about Internet safety in grade 1 or 2?  That's my opinion on the whole thing.

And also the problem is generally like talking about me and Asian context, women and girls are not like you said, not encouraged to express our opinions even in the real world.  And when we express these opinions online which gives us a kind of safe space and we experience violence and these girls immediately shut down and they don't feel like they could express themselves anyway.

This is why actually it's important that we make interest a trusted place especially for girls that we can include them in our conversations so that we have a lot of different perspectives. 

And also I'll talk about the project I'm doing in Sri Lanka.  It's called respect goes on Internet.  This came from a group of people coming together because of their personal experiences with cyber violence and wanted to do something about it.  This is a community‑based project.  We built communities around Sri Lanka that could help young girls while facing cyber harassment.  There are legal ways to take action against this but in countries like ours it's really hard and expensive, especially for young girls to go through legal barriers and get action against it.

And also most of the time the person who is committing the crime is also a teenager which makes it very complicated, so this is why through the project we were trying to promote perspectives for this issue and getting help through peers. 

So some findings we got through this project is the best way ‑‑ a good way to address this cyber safety issue, especially women and making the Internet a safe place for women is spreading empathy and also security awareness and cyber safety awareness at a young age just like I said before.  We learned road safety rules at really young age and now Internet has become a huge part of our lives, so this should be included in curriculum before women and young girls go to the Internet they know what could happen and learn to be safe online.  Also we have a responsibility to make it a safe place, so they can get the opinions into our discussions and move everything forward. 

So I'm actually looking ‑‑ I don't have a lot of insight on this except that situation in Sri Lanka so I'm really looking forward to getting your input and what we can do on making Internet a safe place for women. 

>> BRUNA SANTOS:  Thank you, very much, Poornima.  We are opening the floor for questions, for any questions that you guys want to do right now.  We are going to do a first round of questions and then move back to our panelists and then doing a second round.  We have already one up front and one back there.  Okay. 

>> PARTICIPANT:  Good morning, everyone.  It is still morning.  My name is Brian from South Africa.  I have a couple statements and some questions.  The first question is what advice can one give to a man on how you can involve ladies on whatever projects that we are doing back home?  And also what strategies are they that are introduced by women so that they can ‑‑ because someone mentioned that one of the things that we have been doing is to understand the complexities and how people act. 

So as soon as you start talking about gender to someone of opposite sex they are going to start protecting themselves so what strategies are there in trying to make sure that men don't become protective to whatever proposed ideas are there by the women? 

And also a lot of people that are drafting these policies are men because you said the industry is dominated by men.  So how can you effectively address or contribute to decision‑making to make sure that men are able to accommodate ladies in a lot of organizations such as Internet governance and all that?  Thank you. 

>> BRUNA SANTOS:  I'm going to take three right now and then do the next round. 

>> PARTICIPANT:  Hi, my name is Julia.  I'd like to make a comment about Louise's speech because I identify myself because I'm very interested in cybersecurity but mainly at the IGF we have been feeling very excluded from these rooms because they are very male‑centered and they have older people and are in different staff of their careers.  I feel it's very difficult for me to integrate and navigate these areas and I wanted to comment a little about that if we could, please. 

>> BRUNA SANTOS:  In the back. 

>> PARTICIPANT:  Yes.  Good afternoon, everyone.  First of all you said you were the oldest in the room.  At age 70 I'm possibly the oldest in the room.  And I do have a very long experience to go from.  Janice Richardson.  I created safer Internet day which many of you celebrate also.

I think that the first thing that I've discovered over a 60 or 50-year career in five different countries is that women tend to be less ‑‑ have less solidarity with other women than men do.  We all talk about the old boys’ club and yet we don't talk about the young or just the women's club.  So that's my first observation why is it that women don't support each other to the same extent? 

Secondly, I think that for some reason women always step back when there's a dominant male in the room or several dominant males.  And it's been very, very hard to make our voice heard and yet it's our voice that should be heard in the future of robotics of machine learning, also of cybersecurity.  We know mothers will have a greater influence on the career of their children than what the father will, for example. 

My third point is that we often have other priorities and they fear they lose their femininity if they really struggle for their rights and therefore where it's a man were put forward an idea and he will sell it and be broad of it, women are much more tentative about putting forward their idea and they won't fight tooth and nail to defend it because they have families and they have other people around them. 

So I'm happy to share my experience.  But one last point.  Age.  This is another really difficult thing for women because whereas we respect the man 65, 70, working in the field, I went through a terrible period at age 65 where young people totally wanted to reject me.  And of course you get the freedom to have a much greater role in society as you overcome this, but I think that a thing that women suffer from much more than men.

So not so much a question but I did want to share my experience as it is so important that women bring their viewpoint which is much more about the emotional and the social intelligence in all of this.  Thank you. 

>> BRUNA SANTOS:  Thank you, very, very much.  One quick note.  On this table with the exception of Poornima the four of us have related from ICANN so we are all active in ICANN which is like truly male dominated field and extremely competitive as well, so this is one of the reasons that I'm overwhelmed with this panel.  (Laughter)

Does anybody want to start with the questions?  Okay.

>> (Speaker off microphone)

>> PANELIST:  In terms of women not supporting each other, I agree with you and again I go back to another experience I had.  It wasn't related to ICT.  It was in one of my earlier incarnations when I was working on a lot international trade policy because of my focus on Asia and Japan.  Just a bunch of professional women got together.  We were about the same age and we formed women and international trade.  We got it incorporated.  We found a female attorney who would do the incorporation, all the legalities for us free on a gratis basis. 

But that was a wonderful opportunity for not only networking but also building these leadership skills that you will need further on in life.  At one point I was president of the organization and it was a time in my life when I had not held any other leadership positions, so I learned all about the nuts and bolts of how you lead and manage a nonprofit.

Similarly within ICANN, I am part of the executive committee of the business constituency.  Again very much a learning experience in how you deal with very competitive, you know, organization.  How you manage relations with men. 

So I guess I would encourage you, A, to think about if you have a group of professional women that are ‑‑ you live together, go to school together or something, maybe form your own group.  It would not only be an opportunity for you to network and share experiences but, you know, if you can develop that group over the course of a couple of years you can make it into an entity that for example would have ‑‑ you could engage with say your local parliament.  It would give you a vehicle to engage with your local elected officials.  And I found that to be very, very useful.  So I'll just stop there. 

>> BRUNA SANTOS:  Does anybody else? 

>> PANELIST:  Okay.  Now the mic is on.  So, yeah, just quickly responding to your question.  I don't think there's ‑‑ I really don't think there's a clear answer to that.  I don't think there's a silver bullet.  And it comes in different levels of if you think about policy making it's a structure that is out there, but I think some of the initiatives is there should be space and I think the sensitivity, have it being sensitive that this is a real issue and that there should be space for women within companies within their respective organizations to build their own groups and to just strive to make their own space.  I think that's something that is happening. 

So really just commenting on your comment.  And related to your experience I myself, it's that, you know, like it's your first IGF so it's your first IGF, you know.  It is chaotic.  It is how can I play a role here?  How can I be here? 

And it gets smoother, it's not a word but it gets less chaotic as you go.  And well this is my third IGF so I'm not veteran here.  No.  But I think it is ‑‑ it can be intimidating to be in a room where especially this IGF where you have a lot of government representatives, you have companies here, more companies, more government representatives.  And many men.  But there's also great women also representing governments here in the area of cybersecurity. 

And also, I really admire some of them.  And it can be challenging to answer the question how can I be here?  How can I be part of this such amazing conversation that they're having about cybersecurity and norms and how can I be part of this?  And I must say just don't be afraid to get to these people and talk to these people.  It can be challenging.  Sometimes you might get a wrong look and be judged. 

And that's part of ‑‑ that's a hard part but that's part of the experience.  But just don't be afraid to reach out and to get your ideas flowing because sometimes you feel, well, maybe what I have to say is so obvious about this certain theme, and actually it's not.  So I've been there and I'm still there.  I'm still there, make it clear.  And that helped me a lot.  Just be bold and don't give up in reaching out to these people.  Governments can be more intimidating.  Just go and continue.  Just don't let your passion go away which I think that is really ‑‑ that can be really tacky in some ways, but it is a real important thing that I myself it keeps driving me forward. 

>> JENNIFER CHUNG:  Hi, my name is Jennifer Chung.  Brian, is that right?  Brian from South Africa I really enjoyed your comment and question because every time a go into a session or workshop that is on gender or on women I see very few men and I see even fewer men raising a question and even fewer men raising a question saying what can we do about it?  I think that is the first step that is really important and imperative because language, you were saying language, what kind of language can we use to not make the situation worse or not exacerbate a situation that's already bad? 

I think language itself is very political.  There's a lot of nuance in meaning.  When you think about it, I don't also don't have a silver bullet on the terms you should say, on the words you should say.  But to keep your mind open to learning about it when you're speaking to a female colleague or your peers if you use a certain term or certain word or phrase that you find, okay, maybe this is not exactly a beneficial to the session, be willing to adapt.  I think you asking that question already indicates your willingness to do so, so I really commend you for that. 

The second part of your question was how do we change the status quo of having mostly men decide policies to do with women? 

I think not even in the Internet governance field, you can see it all across in governments and states.  I'll give you an example from the U.S. because that's why I'm based right now.  Politicians are making, you know, decisions on policies for the bodies of women and women themselves are not part of it.  So this is a very big concern, it's a global concern.  It is happening. 

The only thing I can really say right now is to allow women to get to these positions is to then kind of nurture and kind of support them throughout from education from picking what they want to do. 

I think you did mention that there is a lot of hesitance especially from girls in Asia‑Pacific to choose those career paths because in their families there's no support.  And the support through their academy career.  And afterwards in the employment field.  I think I did pull up something that I thought was interesting. 

It says in India even though that the women enrollment in stem is so high, after ten years of experience compared to 17% of men, 41% of women then leave that.  If you leave mid-career, you don't then get to the top.  You don't get to the C suite, executive suite where you're in a position to make policy decisions, to make decisions that impact the rest of the country, the rest of the corporation, the rest of your business.  This they called it to double burden system. 

I want to bring up one more point.  I guess for women there's an additional concern.  It has to do with age as well.  Whether or not you choose to or you choose not to, women do have a concern when they decide to start a family or decide not to start a family.  And I feel that burden is definitely placed solely and squarely on the shoulders of women whether or not they decide to I'm going to have to support my decision or the unit's decision to create a family. 

But for men it's not so much a bigger concern.  They're not like I'm going to drop my career or come out of a high‑powered, high‑command, stressful environment to provide more care for my growing family.  This is a choice a lot of women have to face.  I see a lot of women in this room who have had experience as well.  Age does effect women a lot more and this is one of the aspects and it's a reality.  I think for men if you do want to support the solidarity, take into account the kind of decisions that women peers or colleagues do have to face in their day‑to‑day lives.  This is not just the ICT field, this is across the board. 

>> BRUNA SANTOS:  Thank you.  Jennifer.  Jackie?

>> JACKIE TREIBER:  I also wanted the answer Brian's question.  You asked about how to get women more involved in the projects you're doing back home.  I think if you're in anyplace to hire women, try and prioritize that if you can.  And once they're there, try and pay attention not necessarily to language but how much space you take up and how and when you talk.  And when you are in a mixed group of genders, make sure that you listen. 

Sometimes I find in groups of mixed gender that a man will direct his gaze to another man even though I'm clearly involved in the conversation and I'm effectively kind of pushed out of the conversation.  So I think that's just the first thing that comes to mind is just listening and also trusting women's intellect and skill, and also being willing to ask them what they're good at and playing that up.  That's a good way to support women.

I also wanted to echo the woman in the back's assertion about women and age.  We do tend to talk about youth a lot and the impacts of technology and Internet governance on young women.  We do have to remember that that is a very important aspect of a women's life, as she gets older she's effectively erased and made invisible.  It's really an unfortunate thing.  As we get older we clearly grow in our expertise and have a lot to offer yet we are perceived by the world to be kind of less useful. 

I will say though that in Internet governance I have noticed a lot of older women who hold very powerful positions.  And when they speak in a room I turn around and I listen.  That's not been the case in some of the other fields that I've worked in.

And then lastly with regard to solidarity and women supporting each other I have seen a lot of that in my life, but I would like to say this panel was put together because of our connections to each other.  We all know each other and hopefully we will get to know each other after this panel but this was created out of a trusting each other's expertise.  I noticed there's a lack of female to female mentorship. 

I've been in the Internet governance field for three years and I still feel I don't have a solid older women or peer rip that I'm getting mentored by.  If you see a woman struggling reach out to her and be there for her because we all need that.  Thank you. 

>> BRUNA SANTOS:  We have a question here and I know there's ‑‑ oh.  Great.  We have 20 more minutes of session, so I am going to take I guess three more questions and we also have one question from remote participation.  Angie is going to go first and then...

>> ANGELICA CONTRERAS:  We have a remote participant that says:  I'm Akinremi Peter Taiwo.  Why are we gender equality, how do women participate their lack of interest and show not with focus and how to make it work for use. 

>> BRUNA SANTOS:  Let's go to this table. 

>> PARTICIPANT:  Hi, everyone.  I'm Ester.  Thank you for your amazing stories.  I'll keep my question short.  I know young women who work in stem but most of them have the challenge of dealing with sexual harassment advances from older males in the workplace so how do you deal with that? 

During board meetings it's the tendency not to listen to the woman's opinion. 

>> PARTICIPANT:  Good morning.  I work in some community in my country, tech community, to introduce technology but what is the best strategy to create confidence in women knowing the different content and different issues in Africa. 

>> BRUNA SANTOS:  One last question. 

>> PARTICIPANT:  Hi.  I'm Nola (phonetic), I'm an IGF fellow from Egypt.  Thank you for mentioning the female role models in the IT field.  It's actually hard to find a female role model in the ICT field in the Middle East.  Noting that we also have the percentage of women surpassing men in the stem studies but not in leadership positions as women tend to give up on their careers if they feel it will affect their personal lives.  In the ICT field you don't need to have like an office‑based job or work from 9:00 to 5:00 so what are your recommendations regarding this? 

>> BRUNA SANTOS:  Thank you, guys, for the questions.  I'm going to give the floor to our panelists and I'll ask you to be brief.  Also we should start with our closing remarks.  Poornima, do you want to start?

>> POORNIMA HESHADHARANI:  So I am going to talk about the question about interest and confidence both together.  In my experience with working with teenage girls and also my perspective, I think the best way to improve that confidence and interest is to start at a young age.  There's been research on girls and boys choosing their toys.  When they're really young they don't care if they get a doll or a car.  As they get older with the social mind set they're taught to play dolls and play cars. 

My point is the society is shaping their minds to like certain things at a very young age so if we give them this technology, this experience, and then get them excited about these fields, they might actually be interested in pursuing these fields in the future and also like talking about solidarity I think if we have more stories out there about women in technology, because like you said, even in ICANN there's not much profiles about the women.  And there are so many people in the tech fields who are women.  If we can get the stories out, if we get more women into the fields and maybe have a 50/50 in tech. 

>> BRUNA SANTOS:  Thank you.  Anybody want to go next?  Barbara?

>> (Speaker off microphone)

>> PANELIST:  We are having problems with the microphone.  I guess it was Nola's question concerning what do you think about pursuing ICT work that is not office‑based.  I think I certainly think that's a great way to develop experience. 

And from what I understand I was in a panel yesterday that where we had a scholar from Sri Lanka and she mentioned that this actually serve as a very important role in terms of getting the under‑employed employed so I think this is a great way for you to develop hands‑on skills.  I think it's a great way for you to develop business acumen.  And there are all sorts of online tools out there for you to help understand for example a spreadsheet, so you can track your expenses and so forth.

So if you have that opportunity presented to you, I think it's a great opportunity and again it gives you that hands on experience that you can talk about when perhaps you're invited to an interview for an office job. 

>> JENNIFER CHUNG:  This is Jennifer.  For the record I also wanted to address Nola's question and Ester's question.  Maybe I'm start with your first because what strategies are there to get women to be able to work in jobs that are not an office environment.  There are rules and social norms that dictate how women with interact in social associations. 

The Internet, are you are to work remote.  I don't work in an office environment, I work around the clock with colleagues around the world because of this great intervention the Internet.  That in itself will enable and empower a lot of young women.  Also countries in Asia that they would be able to do things they weren't able to do before.  And I did hear about the stem education, the enrollment for girls is higher than boys in some regions which is great.  In term of role models, there's one lady who is leading here in the Internet governance sector that you can definitely look up to which is from your country. 

So maybe I'll just leave it at that and briefly address Ester's questions about sexual harassment.  I don't know if you're aware right now at least in the U.S. there's this me, too, movement.  Women are encouraged to speak out, sexual harassed woman have been encouraged to speak out.  Traditionally women have not done so because of fear of retaliation, fear of re percussions, fear of not being believed.  Hopefully this whole movement becomes a global movement.  The trauma of going through this again will make them hesitate. 

So I think I can only say I would encourage you to speak out because if certain so‑called media luminaries with be brought down by very brave women coming out and telling their stories then you can as well in your everyday life if you do suffer this or have this situation please don't be afraid to come and speak out.  Lastly, I guess I want to talk about support, the support network.  Women are really great correctors and communicators.  I think we need to leverage this part of what intrinsically makes us this way to help each other out. 

So I think when you're in a situation where you're not really sure, reach out to your fellow network.  I think everyone of us has this network of friends around us who will be able to lift you up when you really need it.  Please reach out to each other and help each other.

>> BRUNA SANTOS:  Just to wrap this up I would like to start by thanking all of these amazing panelists and to all of you to have a room full of what, 50, 60 people, willing to discuss gender and experiences in this area.  It's something when me and Louise were writing this session we didn't figure.  I would like to thank Angie for being the online moderator and Sara our helper and Veronica for helping us writing this proposal.  So thank you all. 

(Applause)

(Session concluded at 13:12 p.m. CET)

 

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