In September 2022, the Association of Nordic Engineers’ Secretary General Inese Podgaiska was invited to speak at the Novatore Impact Summit.
Inese joined the panel on the Future of Leadership & Education in the Digital Age along with social innovator Gabriele Zedlmayer and Svenia Busson, Global Learning Innovation entrepreneur & investor. The panel was moderated by Ernests Jenavs, founder of Edurio – an education technology start-up.
Together, the panellists spotlighted the biases and barriers that keep women from succeeding or achieving career progression into leadership roles.
The Novatore Impact Summit is an international conference for driving economic development and raising important topics by WOMEN for ALL. The conference’s goal is to encourage women’s economic activity and to promote gender diversity in business leadership positions.
Self-confidence, role models, and how we raise our children
These are some of the subjects that the panellists highlighted in the debate as critical challenges for creating equal opportunities for girls in STEM education and for women in leadership roles.
We all must challenge our beliefs of what leadership looks like. Today leadership roles are often filled by people who are similar to those already in leadership positions – we copy what we see – and this favours men.
We must present the success of women leadership – and we equally need to show how women are successful in STEM to create role models for young people. This could also be addressed by education in self-confidence – many young women lack the positive mindset and confidence to achieve whatever they want. Currently, this is not taught in the education system, and the panellists agreed that this could be a way to support girls and women on their route to success.
Research also shows that interest in future education is developed at a very early age. For parents, this means nurturing the understanding of opportunities irrespective of gender, but early education also plays a key role. We need to educate the educators about the biases in education that prevents girls and women from succeeding in their careers. And we need to teach our future generations to accept to sometimes fail and use it as a learning experience when it happens.
Stronger diversity in the tech and STEM sector is also crucial to ensure that future technology will be designed for all, not just men. We live with tech, and the flaws of the tech we are surrounded by significantly impact our lives. An example is education products and technology, which are often mainly built by male-only teams and tend to include biases favouring men.
The Novatore Impact Summit is a yearly event and, in 2023, will be taking place in Riga on the 27-28th of April.