Over the past ten years, the number of female specialists in Ukrainian IT has grown to 25%, yet Sergey Tokarev, Roosh Founding Partner and ReFace investor, considered it is not enough.
Tokarev explains that IT teams that have 50\50 men and women tend to generate the most unexpected hypotheses and ways to test them. And considering there is a significant shortage of AI, ML, and cybersecurity specialists in Ukraine, the IT industry would benefit enormously if more girls choose these specialties.
Yet, many Ukrainian women prefer other areas for their career and not the least due to gender bias in society.
In school, for instance, girls have mostly the same score in math, yet hear all the time that math is for boys, while girls should better focus on humanitarian subjects. Such girls need support from their parents, teachers, and friends. Such support can also be provided by special communities, such as STEM is FEM. This initiative launched a project SHE is SCIENCE last year. It aimed at showing schoolgirls role models among women in tech areas.
Another initiative’s project is ongoing courses organized together with Oracle and the Swiss educational organization Empowerment Lab. These courses are for girls aged 12 to 16. Course students can attend workshops on Data-driven web apps, App prototyping, and Machine Learning. Sergey Tokarev believes that such courses can give girls an opportunity to find out what they want to do in their life regardless the bias.
Then it goes to higher education.
“This summer, SET University, which specializes exclusively in technology, organized a cybersecurity course for teenagers. The courses were for both girls and boys, yet girls made up 30% of the total number of course participants. So, as we can see, there is indeed a demand for IT among girls. And to continue to motivate them, the university is organizing scholarships for girls soon,” tells Sergey Tokarev.
However, support should not stop with graduation from a university. Tokarev explains that it is important to let women find like-minded people and organize unions and communities that would provide opportunities for development in their careers.
“For this purpose, we have created AI HOUSE, an initiative that provides basic training, conferences, and advanced training courses for experienced specialists, but most importantly, it forms the AI and ML community,” explains Sergey Tokarev.
The Roosh Founding Partner points out that it is also necessary to promote gender parity in tech companies. After all, if schoolgirls interested in IT do not get any support, it will be not only difficult for the girls themselves, but also become a contribution to gender inequality in Ukraine and leads to a shortage of qualified personnel in the future.