April 13, we celebrate Girlsday in the Netherlands. A day well worth celebrating!

We’re all on the road to further digitization of our society and I really don’t want the girls to miss out on participating on all levels, in all kinds of fantastic job opportunities, because they do not have the right educational background. So today, many beta, technical and ICT companies and technical and IT departments of companies open their doors to girls aged 10 to 15 years, to show them ‘our’ world in working in technology.

Daughters and technology

Why is making sure that your daughters choose STEM subjects so important? I can imagine that most of your daughters get more excited by the thought of becoming a famous vlogger on YouTube. But here’s the thing… YouTube and vlogging are also based on and use technology to reach an audience. And wouldn’t it be great if your daughter can do all her own photography, knows how to make professional edits with the many software programs available, knows how to gain insights from her websites’ analytics and can make her own tweaks to her ranking in Google?

But what about girls with other talents and fighting crime for example. One of my absolute favourite genre’s to watch on tv is detectives and crime stories. I’ve watched so many, that I sometimes believe I would make a really good Detective Chief Inspector! But nowadays, the super sleuth with a very reliable gut feeling is no longer sufficient to catch the tech savvy criminal.

Cybercrime

With cybercrime being one of the most up-and-coming new forms of crime around the world, we will need a huge, highly qualified taskforce to fight this type of criminal. Today, everyone’s lives are so interconnected and reliant on technology that cybersecurity is no longer just about keeping your website from getting hacked. Cybersecurity now helps people stay safe and healthy. As advances in medical science spawns new technology for saving lives, cybersecurity helps keep those machines safe from malware that could bring those systems down at a critical time. Connected health care systems allow doctors to quickly access their patients’ medical history to provide quick and accurate care. Online banking allows employers to deposit money directly into the bank accounts of their employees. Mortgage checks never get lost in the mail because we can pay directly via a website. Our lives are greatly enhanced by technology and cybersecurity helps keep those systems operating.

Those are just some things that create an overall need for cybersecurity.

Fashion and Tech

However, what really fuels my passion is how technology impacts my family. Everyone I know and love, including those who live abroad, are all online. I have many nieces and nephews that are growing up in this hyper-connected world and I want them to feel safe in their digital lives, now and in the future. And to do that, we need to create a lot more awareness of what it means to live in a digital world. We, as role models, need to pay attention to this at a young age, so that our girls are well prepared for their secondary education and don’t lose out on the many great opportunities awaiting them. IT today is all around us and encompasses so much more than the traditional role in IT. Skills such as knowing what your audience wants and needs, what gets them active and engaged are invaluable in marketing and retail, developing creative skills in fashion, like Anouk Wipprecht to design revolutionary new outfits, or being able to communicate well using all the tools at our disposal, so they can work (internationally) in teams or create social media campaign are just a few of the many, many options out there. I would be very proud if in the future, these roles are filled by the girls celebrating Girlsday today.

Our society deserves skilled, motivated, passionate technology workers with equal representation of men and women. It’s my hope that with access to improved education and awareness, others will feel the same way and look to a career in for instance, cybersecurity.

Photo: Anouk Wipprecht