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Don't leave anyone behind. Digital inclusion only exists if everyone is included.
Luisa Ribeiro Lopes
.PT Chairman of the Board of Directors
12-10-2020
Don't leave anyone behind. Digital inclusion only exists if everyone is included.
The last decades have witnessed the development of educational competences that outline an optimistic picture of education in Portugal. In 1970, 25.7% of individuals were illiterate, having dropped to around 2% in 2018. In this year, 2020/2021, Portugal saw a record number of students arriving at higher education, over 51,000 students. And although more than 54% of students in higher education are women, in the areas of science, mathematics and engineering (STEM) this number drops to 43.1% and in engineering to 28.4%, whereas in technological engineering it is 12.4%. Figures that make up almost all future professionals in the technological professions.

According to the DESI (Digital Economy and Society Index), which is a composite index of the Digital Economy and Society, with data published in March 2020, there are about 9.1 million people working in the areas of ICT - Information and Communications Technology across the European Union. Of this number, 83.5% of workers are men.

As the area of Information and Communications Technologies (ICT) is one of those that guarantees employability, better wages, a good work environment and flexible working hours and where currently more than eight in ten ICT jobs are occupied by men, the European Institute for Gender Equality drew attention in March 2019 to the fact that there is a segregation of professional occupations due to sex, namely in ICT, which is strongly marked by gender stereotypes, with the roles assigned to men and women strongly influencing these choices.

The first person who stood out in the programming area was a woman. In the middle of the 19th century, the British Ada Lovelace was a pioneer in the writing of lines of code, having been responsible for writing the first algorithm created in history, long before the existence of machines that could process it. That algorithm, however, was proven to be correct years after her death, when it was finally possible to have the necessary equipment for this verification. And if Tim Berners-Lee is the father of the internet, Radia Perlman can be considered as the mother. Software designer and network engineer, she was responsible for creating the STP protocol (Spanning Tree Protocol), which improved the performance of connected systems by avoiding data loops, ensuring that information circulates even in case of problems, without get lost trying to establish a non-existent connection.

In Portugal, Madalena Quirino, graduated in mathematics in 1957, was a researcher at the National Laboratory for Civil Engineering during the 1960s, where she was associated with the creation of the Calculation Center and the acquisition of the first computer in 1958. In 1975 she played a key role in the initial development of the Degree in Informatics Engineering at Universidade NOVA de Lisboa, a pioneer in Portugal, having been the first President of the Informatics area at the same University. 

These are just examples that prove, on the one hand, the existence of important technological developments by women and, on the other hand, the importance of giving visibility to the role of women in technology. Projects such as "Engenheiras por um dia”, which results from a partnership with the Commission for Citizenship and Gender Equality (CIG), the Instituto Superior Técnico (IST), schools and the Portuguese Association of Women's Studies (APEM), intend to give visibility by the example of women who opted for technological work. Women's leadership in these areas must also be disseminated in an exemplary manner. These are positive ways to dismantle gender myths and prejudices. 
 
Also, in this matter, .PT, led by women, has been supporting several initiatives to promote women's participation in digital inside and outside doors. An example of this is the annual Young Female Student .PT award within the scope of the Apps for Good contest.

Closing the Gender Gap on Digital Technologies is one of the aims of the European Union, also of Portugal: It is the measure 19 of Pillar I of the National Plan for the Digital Transition.

We need more technology professionals, women and men.

"Gender equality is a core principle of the European Union. Yet it is still not a reality. In business, politics and society as a whole, we can only reach our full potential if we use all of our talent and diversity. Using only half the population, half the ideas or half of the energy is not enough.” 
Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission on 8 March 2020
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