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Girls Power Tech: Inspiring the Next Generation of Women Innovators

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By Mike Weston, Vice President, Cisco Middle East
Creating an environment that empowers and encourages girls and young women to consider careers in the growing field of ICT

Come May 12th and Dubai offices will be buzzing with excitement, youthful exuberance and curiosity as more than 60 female students from various schools in the UAE will participate in our Girls Power Tech event. The global initiative focuses on mentoring girls aged 13-18 to learn first-hand about career opportunities in information and communication technology (ICT) and is part of our support to Girls in ICT Day, a global event organized by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU).

We open our doors to young women to encourage them to consider education in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) and to inspire them to pursue career paths in technology related fields. This is not just a visit to our offices, but a chance to gain hands-on exposure to our latest solutions and thinking in areas related to the Internet of Things, collaboration technologies and smart cities, among others.

The young women also get to directly engage with our Cisco colleagues, including women role models and men who are advocates for women in technology, to hear inspiring stories about their careers and their vision for what the future holds. They will also have the opportunity to interact with other industry professionals to learn more about how innovation in technology and connectivity is allowing amazing things to happen in new, unexpected ways.

Women comprise a mere 27% of workers in the computer science, engineering, and physics fields in some of the world's emerging economies – remaining a largely untapped resource of talent. A diverse workforce has never been more important to stay competitive in today's digital world and, more importantly, in the future.

For nearly two decades, Cisco has made it a top priority to build a diverse talent pool to meet these challenges. We not only encourage diversity at our work place but are also committed to encouraging young women discover career opportunities in ICT through our global initiatives such as Girls Power Tech. The ultimate aim is to stimulate interest and excitement in ICT and to help drive the next generation of innovators who will use technology to change the world.

We have a power-packed day lined up for these students. From an inspirational talk '#My Journey #ICT Career' by Frida Kleimert, Head of Channel and Commercial Sales - Cisco UAE, to an insightful keynote by Manal Al Ansari, Innovation Manager at EmiratesNBD. Den Sullivan, Cisco's EMEAR Leader Software Sales will present on 'Connecting the Unconnected' and Mohammed Khamis, Consulting Systems Engineer at Cisco, will lead the fun activities with the Green Screen.

As part of our Digital Rockstars Challenge, groups of students will present their original ideas on the different use cases of Internet of Things aligned to our vision of "Changing the way we work, live, play and learn." A judging panel will chose the best innovative idea for a prize.

Through Cisco's Telepresence collaboration solutions, we will connect our local students with other girls across UAE, Oman and Kenya, as well as female Cisco employees, who will share their personal experiences in the ICT field.

I am really excited about meeting our next generation of Ground-breakers, Innovators, Rule breakers and Leaders (GIRLS)!

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