Talking Tech:
Women and Girls in ICT

Talking Tech: Women and Girls in ICT is a series is brought to you by the ITU and UNICC, and supported by the GSMA and the EQUALS global partnership.

In their latest video, Tamina Rauf, a Biomedical Student at the University of Oslo, interviews Laxmi Akkaraju, Chief Strategy Officer at the GSMA.

Their conversation spans studying tech as a female in the 90s, gender bias in algorithms and AI, the gender gap in mobile usage, GSMA initiatives such as Tech4Girls, work culture in different societies and what it means to be a young woman starting a career in the STEM field.

“A more gender-balanced tech sector is something that I’m passionate about.”
– Tamina
“Soon every industry in the world will have some digital aspect – what is cool about telco, especially mobile connectivity, is that in many ways it’s at the epicentre of digitisation.”
– Laxmi

“It’s a common misconception that women have always been underrepresented in this field. In 1984 when Apple launched their first computer, almost 40% of US computer programming students were women. But today the figure is around 25% in the US…
I think one factor may have to do with stereotypes. In the mid-80s colleges in the US started to use these personality tests to help find the perfect engineering candidate but these algorithms often have biases, so over time the tests created an environment where gender stereotypes were actually strengthened.”
– Laxmi
“When I realised that tech and science is the future, that tech is a part of something that is changing our society – both the socio-politically but also economically – if you want to change and mould society so you have to be a part of the system.
So I think that was one thing I realised when I was growing up was okay, if I want to change the world I have to get into tech”
– Tamina