Panel Discussion on Women in Tech

March 7, 2016

Female leaders in Serbia’s information and communication technologies (ICT) field and the wider business community emphasized the importance of broader participation by women in the ICT sector. The panel was organized by the Commercial Department of the U.S. Embassy in Serbia and AmCham.

At the opening of the panel, a special video address from U.S. State Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker was shown.

“Today we celebrate the impact of women entrepreneurs and leaders and we hope that each of us, whether we are men or women, can contribute to encouraging greater participation of women in the digital sector. Although many of them are recognized leaders in technology companies, the statistics are sobering, especially when it comes to leadership positions. It is time that women fully understand what role they can play in the global digital economy,“ said Pritzker.

Participants in the panel, moderated by Marina Rakić of IBM, were: Tatjana Matić, State Secretary at the Serbian Ministry of Trade, Tourism and Telecommunication; Lysa Giuliano, CIO at the US Embassy in Belgrade; Nataša Sekulić, CEO of IBM Serbia; Diana Glogorijević, CMO of TeleGroup; and Zoja Kukić, co-Owner of ICT Hub StartIt.

Diana Gligorijević emphasized that a local company can recognize and nourish potential, mentioning that several former TeleGroup female employees now head development or general management departments of local and regional branches of leading global ICT companies. Zoja Kukić cited figures from a study that shows ICT startups with just one woman on-board are 15% more likely to succeed in business, yet investors are reluctant to invest in companies owned or co-owned by women. This discrepancy was later discussed in depth.

Tatjana Matić underlined education as a primary focus for the state, while Lysa Giuliano added that, as informal educational paths are common in this field, future prospects and ideal opportunities are available for all women (and men) worldwide, no matter their educational level, or their starting age. Referring to ICT as a predominately male industry, Nataša Sekulić reflected on the importance of men being involved in processes of raising awareness about the matter.

The guests, ladies from various industries and companies (Microsoft, IBM, Cisco, Atos, Coca Cola, First Data, Telesign, NCR, Sitel) participated in a discussion on related topics, including career development, stereotypes and prejudices, the balance between a woman’s professional and private life, the role of the media, etc.