Addressing gender inequity in the technology industry
Did you know that women hold only 8% of cloud roles across European companies? And that the number of female tech founders in Europe remains under 15%? It’s hard to believe that this is the situation in 2023.
Fortunately, initiatives exist to drive positive change towards gender equity in tech. Amazon Web Services (AWS) re/Start is a re-skilling program for people who are new to technology. It supports individuals to gain knowledge, learn new skills, and ultimately launch a career in tech. The program is deliberate about increasing diversity in the tech sector.
As part of AWS’ commitment to training 29 million people globally by 2025, AWS re/Start is creating thousands of new builders every day. But the global skills shortage and the lack of diversity in tech will not be solved by one vendor, nor one hiring organization alone. It will take a movement across multiple countries, organizations and initiatives to make a significant change.
AWS re/Start already works with a network of collaborating organizations on a global scale. So, when the opportunity arose to bring together a consortium of organizations on a similar mission, we seized the opportunity.
Enter the Femme Forward project
Femme Forward is a European Union (EU)-funded project aimed at empowering women with the skills and confidence to launch tech careers or form new start-ups.
It is delivered by a consortium of experienced social value training providers and companies committed to changing the gender balance in tech, and in increasing the number of female founders. Co-funded by the EU, the project will run from January 2023 until December 2024.
By providing inspiring role models, practical skills, and a robust support network, Femme Forward aspires to ignite a new wave of female tech professionals and entrepreneurs. With mentoring opportunities available in seven European languages, this program strives to make tech accessible and to positively impact over 500 women. This is the first big step in reshaping the gender balance in tech and fostering a thriving community of empowered women in the digital age.
Simplon, an AWS re/Start collaborating organization, will officially lead the project, managing the various design and skills training delivery organizations including Engim, Factoria F5, Tech & Teach, Top-IX, Big Blue Data Academy, Cyprus Computer Society, BeCode, Simplon Romania, Simplon.co, Le TechSpace, and Hochschule Hannover University.
AWS re/Start will provide the majority of the content, exam vouchers, and learning platforms for the ‘Tech Careers’ stream. Tech & Teach will provide the content for the ‘Tech Founders’ stream, focusing on content such as securing investment, writing a business plan, and pitching. All delivery organization members will then deliver the content in their home countries of Italy, Belgium, Germany, Romania, France, Greece, Spain, and Cyprus.
As part of their commitment to addressing DE&I issues, AWS customers, Randstad and Fujitsu, have also offered their services free of charge. Randstad used its vast knowledge and experience to successfully create an online knowledge repository of useful resources for building CVs and interviewing to supplement the Tech Careers stream. Fujitsu will deliver soft-skill sessions, including communication, critical thinking, and emotional intelligence techniques, to help participants to become confident, thoughtful, and articulate professionals.
I agree with Farah Verbruggen, vice president of EMEA, Randstad, who also values this push for women into tech. She says that “Randstad was keen to actively engage in the Femme Forward project. Working in the staffing industry, we see the lack of diversity and the overall tech skills shortage as a significant challenge for our customers across Europe.”
If you would like to be a part of the program as a mentor, or you’re a female founder who could deliver a session in our inspirational workshops, please register via the Femme Forward website.
If you’re an aspiring tech founder, or looking for a career change into tech, we welcome you to join as many sessions as your schedule allows. Please review the upcoming events and register your attendance.
Later in 2024, our final consortium member, Digital Europe, will share the knowledge and insights gained from the program, using its network and expertise to disseminate the information. We’ll share more updates as the project progresses.