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We need more women leaders in tech, says Huawei senior vice president

Catherine Chen. Photo: Huawei
Catherine Chen. Photo: Huawei

A senior executive at one of the world’s largest tech giants says we urgently need more female leaders to usher in tomorrow’s digital era.

Catherine Chen, Huawei corporate senior vice president and director of the board, told one of the world’s largest technology conferences that correcting the gender imbalance in senior industry roles is key if we are to build a diverse and inclusive digital economy.

Chen, who has 26 years’ experience in the tech industry, said that women have a unique and innovative power that can benefit the tech industry – and that we need to invest in education as a key to empowering women.

Women leaders

Speaking at Web Summit – considered Europe’s most important digital conference – she said: ‘In the digital age, we not only need more women represented in the industry – we also need women leaders.

‘Gender equality is not about women and men sharing the same mindsets and behavior. Rather, it’s about equal opportunities and rights, which can only come from a more inclusive, diverse, and healthy society.”

She went on to say that that women account for almost half of the world’s five billion working population, but only around half of them participate in the labour force. Only around 20-30% of the workforce in ICT industry and 7.4% of Fortune Global 500 CEOs are women.

Three steps to improving equality

Chen outlined three ways in which individuals, business and systems should be changing to better support women.

First of all, policy support for women, such as the objectives and guidelines outlined in the EU Gender Equality Strategy 2020-2025, is crucial.

Secondly, women themselves need to reject the stereotypes that the tech industry is too dull or too difficult for them.

Thirdly, Chen stressed that digital skills education will fundamentally empower women and ‘give them more opportunities and help them learn the basic skills they need to compete in the digital economy’. Huawei has repeatedly affirmed its commitment to promoting science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education.

She concluded: ‘We hope that more brilliant women will emerge in the industry for a more equal, open, and diverse future.

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