The digital life has been well established in Japan and Switzerland. In contrast, however, the presence of women in the ICT (information and communication technologies) conferences and the industries is surprisingly low — twenty percent (20%) of all the workers in the ICT industry, and only five percent who speak at ICT conferences!
To encourage women to participate in and become visible in the ICT scene, Ms Taïssa Charlier launched “Women in Digital Switzerland” (WDS, hereafter), a group created in LinkedIn in January 2014. Starting with about 20 people in the group, WSD had grown to host 200 members in a few months! These members came to know WSD only via word of the mouth.
Need to push forward more opinions from women
Taïssa is a young and dynamic professional of digital marketing. The original reason that made her to stand up to unite women via WDS was a prohibitively high cost of the kindergarten in Switzerland. Being a single mother, she needs a kindergarten to keep her child while she works in daytime. She soon found that the fee for the kindergarten is almost the same as her monthly salary. “Women can’t work outside home! We must make the opinions of women heard in society”, she thought.
Taïssa soon realised that women are heavily under represented in the ICT industry, despite an increasing number of professional women in the industry. “Something must be done”, she thought. Her answer was to create a system on the network for women to inspire and to be inspired, to be connected with peers, to share best practices and, thus, to increase their visibility and presence profession.
Mutual support by information exchange and discussion
WDS rightly hit the needs of professional women, who have been scattered around and rather isolated in digital profession in Switzerland.
Taïssa said, “I wish WSD to grow starting from the information exchange to become a platform for women to inspire each other. I wish WSD become a media to empower women in the future.”
The language of WSD is English. Taïssa, though she is a Franco phone herself, decided to use English as the language of the group so that women in other language groups of Switzerland may join and exchange information across the different language zones in the country.
“It’s my giving back project”
For Taïssa, having a large number of participants is not a major purpose of the WSD. “I wish to give back to those wonderful people I met by providing WSD for women to meet wonderful people.”
She further went on to say that fully utilising women’s talent is a part of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) for companies. Giving opportunities to women and grow them is a contribution to the society.
The author has come to know a workingwomen’s network launched based on a similar idea in Japan. The social media helps you to be connected with like-minded people even though you find none around. With the policy of the Prime Minister Abe to utilise women for the economic development of Japan, networks of professional women’s mutual support based on the social media will grow.
THE ARTICLE POSTED ABOVE IS A SUMMARY. The original article is in Japanese and published in “Akebono”, a monthly journal in Japan, in June 2014. Ten thousand copies are issued every month.