Yesterday, I shared my experience presenting about gender diversity and women in ICT at the recent Philippine Youth Congress for Information Technology (Y4IT).
Today, I want to share with you the experiences of two of my fellow female presenters: Joyce Chen, who is Senior Manager, Global Stakeholder Engagement Strategy & Development at ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers), and Mary Grace Mirandilla-Santos, who is Vice President for Policy at the Internet Society’s Philippines Chapter.
Digital citizenship to connect the unconnected
“With 75% of developing Asia’s population still unconnected to the Internet, I challenged the Philippines youth to get involved in ICANN’s work in the Domain Name System, to become digital citizens and lend their voices to speak on behalf of those who are unable to because they lack Internet access.
I found great resonance with Sheryl’s topic on ‘Women in IT’ where she exhorted women to ‘speak up’ because our key messages to the students echoed each other.
Through my presentation on ‘Digital Citizenship to Connect the Unconnected’, I encouraged the students to leverage ICANN’s multistakeholder model and be a part of the global Internet community.
Today’s youths are empowered to build their local communities with many tools and avenues to create local digital content and develop digital skills. These gifts could help to open greater Internet access to the remaining 56% of the Philippines population that are still unconnected.
Speaking to 7,000 youths was both daunting and humbling. I had a great time interacting with them as they were energetic, responsive and asked sharp questions.
The 14th Y4IT was a valuable opportunity to reach out to students and give them something to think about, as well as inspire in them a passion for connecting more people to the Internet.”
PH Broadband: current state and the way forward
Mary Grace Mirandilla-Santos
“Talking about connectivity and infrastructure is often associated with men. Many times, discussions about Internet technology and how it works are dominated by men.
Save for a few, there are few women I know who look at the impact of having a concentrated market for cable landing stations or why the backhaul network is one of the most expensive aspects of buying the Internet in the Philippines. This was something that I had to learn, as a policy researcher, from talking to network engineers, telco executives, and industry players — most of whom were men.
I hope that by example, I am able to show girls, especially my own daughter, that the determination to learn, the passion to explore, and the drive to make a difference are not defined by one’s gender.
Speaking at the Y4iT was both an exciting and terrifying experience.
It’s exciting to be able to share my personal advocacy for a better Internet with the audience, who were mostly STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) students and professors. Many of them will someday be working in the field of telecommunications, and it is my hope that being made aware of the problems and issues that hamper the growth of the Philippines Internet will help them become part of the solution in the near future.
The experience was also terrifying because as speakers, what we say and impart to the students could affect the way they see things and how they learn to appreciate the various issues that shape and influence the telecommunications and ICT sector. This is especially true for girls who, since they are often outnumbered in engineering and IT-related courses, would probably look for role models or be inspired by people who are already working in the field.
I’m really thankful to Y4IT for the opportunity to present to thousands of students who were willing and ready to learn and engage.”
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