Europe Recognises Top Girls and Women in Digital Fields

“We are girls! We are women! We are strong!” – European Commissioner Gabriel to winners of the 2019 European Ada Awards recognising top female digital talent in Europe

“Take all challenges as opportunities,” advised Ms. Mariya Gabriel, European Commissioner for the Digital Economy and Society, to a group of wide-eyed finalists at the sixth European Ada Awards ceremony organised on 16 October 2019 in Brussels as part of European Code Week and the WomenInTech.Brussels Women Code Festival. The Ada Awards, founded in 2012 by Brussels-based Digital Leadership Institute, promote top girls and women in digital fields in Europe in an effort to increase their numbers, a long-term priority for Commissioner Gabriel that she will carry into her new mission as European Commissioner for Youth and Innovation starting next month.

Commissioner Gabriel officially opened this year’s celebration of the Ada Awards, affectionately named for Countess Ada Lovelace, the world’s first-ever computer programmer, with a message that technology is “a strategic tool for the empowerment of citizens—of women and of men—that we must continue to use to advance ourselves,” she said. The Commissioner counseled those present to spend less time on embellishments and to focus on taking action when a door is opened, saying she would both hold them to task, and committed to supporting them along the way. The Commissioner closed her message praising the hard work and talent demonstrated by the Ada Award finalists and winners, underscoring: “We are girls! We are women! We are strong!”

Following her remarks, Commissioner Gabriel and Ada Award partners from civil society and private sector recognised the 2019 European Ada Award-winners.

2019 European Digital Woman of the Year Award

The 2019 European Ada Award for Digital Woman of the Year was presented by Ms. Kelly Dorekens, CRM Director at Deloitte Belgium, who shared that “diversity in a group matters as much as ability and brainpower,” adding that Deloitte “actively encourages women to embrace science, technology, engineering and math through selected partnerships and events, like the Ada Awards.”

Ms. Dee Saigal, United Kingdom – 2019 European Digital Woman of the Year
Ms. Dee Saigal is Founder, CEO and Creative Director of Erase All Kittens, an adventure game designed to give girls the confidence to code, whilst teaching digital and 21st century skills. Dee’s goal is for EAK is to transform the way children perceive coding and engineering, and empower millions of girls worldwide with transferable, digital skills. Dee shared that her biggest challenge so far, aside from being a woman in tech, has been fundraising for research and development. Her message to other women and girls is to not think tech is for boys or that it is “geeky.” “There are so many amazing careers in tech that are both interesting and challenging,” says Saigal. Now that Erase All Kittens has 150,000 players, her next step is to raise investment in order to be able to build more educational and gamified version to launch globally. Her team is raising £500,000, and are already at twenty percent of that goal.

2019 European Digital Girl of the Year Award

“10 Years and Under” Category:
The 2019 European Ada Award for Digital Girl of the Year in the “10 Years and Under” category was presented by Ms. Afke Schaart, VP and Head of Europe, GSMA. Winner in this category was Tayra, from Bulgaria.

Tayra, from Bulgaria – 2019 European Digital Girl of the Year “10 Years and Under”
Tayra is ten years old and was born in Sofia. She loves coding, and most recently won a special prize at Softunjada Kids with her Scratch project “three bears fairytale,” using sign language for kids. Tayra says the projects she is most proud of are her webpage and her robots. In ten years, she hopes to be a programmer. Her message to other girls who are interested in tech is: “I believe that girls have a power, and the power of technology can change the world for the better, no matter who we are. It is never too late or too early to get involved in tech,” Tayra says.

“11-14 Years Old” Category:

The 2019 European Ada Award for Digital Girl of the Year in the “11-14 Years Old” category was presented by Ms. Christine Marlet, Board Member, Global Wo.Man Hub. Marlet expressed her awe of the candidates saying “the Ada Awards grant the participants the perfect opportunity to enhance their digital dreams. It encourages them to take risks along the way in order to achieve their digital goals because they believe that their objectives are attainable.” She added: “Belief in yourself stems from belief in your role models.” Winner in this category was Selin, from Turkey.

Selin, from Turkey – 2019 European Digital Girl of the Year “11-14 Years Old”
Selin is thirteen years old and loves building robots, coding, animals and travelling. She wants to study robotics and eventually build a humanoid. Selin shared that she was inspired to build her robot dog when her childhood dog passed away. She said “I knew that blind people especially have a strong connection with their dogs. I wanted to help them out, and felt like this was a great way of doing that.” She spends her free time on the weekends working on and improving her robotic guide dog. Looking forward, Selin says “I am currently developing the second version of my dog, and this one will be able to sit, lay down, bark, and it will even do ‘heart eyes’ towards my mom. Currently it’s only programmed to understand English, but I’m hoping for it to learn Chinese soon!”

“15-17 Years Old” Category:
The 2019 European Ada Award for Digital Girl of the Year in the “15-17 Years Old” category was presented by Ms. Viola Pinzi from European Schoolnet. There were two winner in this category: Anne, from Belgium, and Alai-Miranda, from Spain.

Anne, from Belgium – 2019 European Digital Girl of the Year “15-17 Years Old”
Anne is a fifteen-year-old girl who created Clinicoders, an initiative to bring technology and programming to children in hospitals. One of the goals of this project is to encourage children to create solutions for permanently disabled children. Anne said her next steps for Clinicoders are to bring it to a hospital in Antwerp, as it is only currently in Ghent, Belgium. “My dad wants to help bring it to other countries as well. So we’ll see where it goes,” she said. Over time, Clinicoders has developed from an application for children into something for adults too. “We shared this application called ‘Mindstorms’ to adult hospital animators, and it has been a real success.” In terms of her own future, Anne plans on studying law, but definitely wants to continue engaging hospital patients with Clinicoders.

Alai-Miranda from Spain – 2019 European Digital Girl of the Year “15-17 Years Old”
Alai-Miranda’s passion for STEM began when she was seven years old, and it has yet to fade. Most recently, she was invited to speak at the Amazon Web Services Summit in Madrid to discuss her experience as a girl in technology. Alai-Miranda shared about a new project she has begun to work on called “EsVuela.” A combination of the Spanish words “escuela” (school) and “volar” (to fly), the project will educate children on how to fly and program drones. As far as where Alai-Mirand sees herself in ten years, she says: “Hopefully I will have graduated from MIT and will be working in technology at a company, or maybe I will have even started my own company at that point. I hope to be either in the U.S., or maybe in Europe, maybe even still in Spain – somewhere!” As for her experience at the Ada Awards, she said that she feels “inspired to continue talking about and learning technology.”

 

“Gender-Equality and Europe: Fit for the Digital Era?” Panel

The 2019 European Ada Awards ceremony was preceded by a high-level panel on “Gender Equality and Europe: Fit for the Digital Era,” moderated by Cheryl Miller Van Dÿck, DLI Founding Director, and including panelists Miss Manon Van Hoorebeke, 2014-2015 Ada Award-winner for European Digital Girl of the Year, Mr. Christian Veske, Stakeholder Relations Coordinator at the European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE), Ms. Annick Breton Elias, Partner of Deloitte Luxembourg, and Ms. Afke Schaart, Vice President and Head of Europe at GSMA, a global trade association for the mobile industry.

Christian Veske kicked off the panel with a discussion of EIGE’s 2019 Gender Equality Index released this week, the factors contributing to Europe’s score of 67 out of 100, and the increasing importance of promoting gender balance in digital fields. “Women won’t achieve equality until there is digital equality,” agreed Schaart from the GSMA. “Right now, women hold less than twenty percent of jobs in the tech industry, which is why GSMA expanded our Tech4Girls program this year.”

 

At sixteen, Manon Van Hoorebeke shared that winning the Digital Girl of the Year award at eleven years old has played a significant role in guiding her life choices since then, and that she is now studying Physics at university. Van Hoorebeke also admitted that a lack of confidence with technology is a barrier to getting more young women into the field, and even despite her accomplishements, that she sometimes faces self-doubt. Elias concurred that this patter appears in professional contexts as well for which reason, she said, Deloitte works to identfy high-potential women in digital fields and starts conversations with them on leadership. “Because it is often unlikely that women will initiate these discussions themselves,” she said.

 

Formal welcome for the 2019 European Ada Awards Ceremony was provided by Ms. Loubna Azhgoud, COO of Women in Business and WomenInTech.Brussels @1819 Hub, and by Ms. Audrey Scozzaro Ferrazzi, Senior European Policy Manager at Google. Azhgoud congratulated Ada Award finalists and highlighted the event in the context of the third-annual Women Code Festival organised by the Brussels Region, which succeeded this year in reaching 2300 participants, eighty percent female, to encourage them into digital fields. Scozzaro Ferrazzi also welcomed guests with a rousing speech expressing her awe and admiration for gathered laurates who, like her, are pursuing digital fields.

Following the ceremony, WomenInTech.Brussels provided a lovely reception for the finalists and winners of the 2019 European Ada Awards and all their friends, families and supporters.

Congratulations to the 2019 European Ada Award winners, finalists and nominees for their amazing leadership in digital fields across Europe!

Thank you to our Ada Awards sponsors and supporters!

Photo credit: Digital Leadership Institute

You can find more pictures from the 2019 European Ada Awards ceremony here.

DLI Awards Top European Girls and Women in Tech

LUXEMBOURG – 14 December 2015 – Today in Luxembourg, Europe celebrated top girls and women in technology as part of the Luxembourg presidency of the Council of the European Union. The 2015 European Ada Awards, an initiative of the Brussels-based Digital Leadership Institute (DLI), were presented in the categories of Digital Woman, Digital Impact Organisation, and Digital Girl of the Year. Two teens from Ireland and the UK were recognised in the category of Digital Girl of the Year.

imageEurope’s Best Young Coders

“I’m really excited,” beamed Niamh Scanlon, thirteen-year-old Digital Girl Award-winner from Ireland who has been coding since she was nine. According to Scanlon, after-school classes at CoderDojo were critical for her to hone and share her award-winning app-building skills. “Classes especially for girls are really important to get them coding,” Scanlon adds. In a field susceptible to discouraging stereotypes, “girls shouldn’t feel like coding is just for boys,” she says.

“I go to an all-girl school and still uptake in computing wasn’t as high as other subjects,” says Yasmin Bey, fourteen-year-old Digital Girl Award-winner from the UK who knows five coding languages and professes a love for tiny Raspberry Pi computers. “I started coding clubs to inspire girls and show them how awesome programming is,” she says. Bey now teaches classes with hundreds of students and is keen to share her knowledge. “Everyone should learn to code,” she says.

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Needed: More Female Tech Role Models

Janneke Niessen, COO and Cofounder of Improve Digital, received the 2015 European Digital Woman of the Year Award and acknowledges that being one of a small group of woman tech founders in Europe “has its own challenges.” Since as few as three percent of European founders in digital fields are women, more action to increase their visibility is needed, according to Niessen. Niessen herself has launched two initiatives: InspiringFifty, promoting women tech role models, and a book for young girls called Project Prep. “Girls don’t know what they’re missing when they say ‘no’ to a career in technology,” Niessen says, “so it’s important for us to show them.”

Longterm Vision and Commitment

Cocky Booij, Director of VHTO in the Netherlands, accepted the 2015 European Digital Impact Organisation Award for her organisation’s pioneering work to increase participation of girls in digital sectors. “Given the dominance of digital technology in our lives and the chronic underrepresentation of girls as digital makers,” Booij says, “VHTO promotes an integrated approach with a longterm vision to engage girls and keep them in these fields.”

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Driving Step-Change

“The goal of the Ada Awards is to drive a step-change in attitudes about girls and women as digital leaders,” says Cheryl Miller, DLI founder, who admits frustration about the pace of change. Unfilled tech jobs in Europe will reach one million by 2020, so skilling girls and women now to take up these jobs is a ‘no-brainer,’ she says. “Targeted action to engage girls and women in digital leadership is not a luxury,” Miller continues, “but an economic necessity demanding urgent action by Europe’s leaders.”

Transition to the Digital Future

Support for the Ada Awards is led by top digital skills organisations in Europe, including CEPIS, DIGITALEUROPE, the European Schoolnet and ECWT, and technology companies like Amazon Web Services who are driving the transition to a digital future.

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1. Digital Girls of the Year:

  • Niamh Scanlon, 13-years old from Ireland
  • Yasmin Bey, 14-years-old from the United Kingdom

2. Digital Woman of the Year: Janneke Niessen, COO & Cofounder Improve Digital

3. Digital Impact Organisation of the Year: VHTO, the Netherlands

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Place Van Meyelplein 24
1040 Brussels, Belgium

2015 European Impact Award Finalists

Congratulations to the finalists for the 2015 European Digital Impact Organisation of the Year™ Award!

TravisFoundation-1 Travis Foundation runs Rails Girls Summer of Code for the third year in a row now – providing stipends for women all over the world to work on Open Source projects. The grassroots initiative is a hands-on solution for the problem of women being underrepresented in Open Source and Tech in general. With Rails Girls Summer of Code we are not only changing women’s careers, diversifying Tech Communities and building safer environments for women in Tech – we are also creating the much-needed role models in IT, so that future generations can follow suit.

vhtograb VHTO, the Dutch national expert organisation on girls/women and science/technology, makes an effort in many different ways to increase the involvement of women and girls in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).  Every year VHTO organises the Dutch Girlsday together with 300 IT and technical companies.  In 2015, 9,525 girls participated! To increase the participation of girls in Computer Science specifically, VHTO created the Digivita program for girls (age 8-18) which took place in in six cities in 2014, and carried out the Digivita Summer Camp in 2015.  In 2014 VHTO reached 55,210 Dutch children through projects in primary and secondary education.

Join us at the 2015 European Ada Awards Ceremony – taking place as part of the “e-Skills for Jobs High-level Conference” event on 14 December 2015 in Luxembourg, where we will announce the 2015 European Digital Impact Organisation of the Year™!

eskills logo_final2015

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Place Van Meyelplein 24
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2014 European Digital Impact Organisation

On 30 October 2014 in RomeDLI announced winners of the 2014 European Ada Awards.  Join us here in congratulating the winners, and read here the  Press Release  from our partners and sponsors about this great event!

***Congratulations to the 2014 European Digital Impact Organisation of the Year™!***

stemettesgrab  Stemettes, United Kingdom:

The Stemettes aim to inspire the next generation of females into Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) fields by showing them the amazing women already in STEM via a series of panel events, hackathons, exhibitions, and mentoring schemes.

Congratulations again to STEMettes, and thank you to our amazing partners and sponsors for making the 2014 European Ada Awards possible!

©2013-2015 Digital Leadership Institute, asbl/vzw
Place Van Meyelplein 24
1040 Brussels, Belgium

2014 Finalists

Congratulations to the finalists for the 2014 European Digital Impact Organisation of the Year™ Award!

stemettesgrab  The Stemettes aim to inspire the next generation of females into Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) fields by showing them the amazing women already in STEM via a series of panel events, hackathons, exhibitions, and mentoring schemes.

vhtograb  VHTO, the Dutch national expert organisation on girls/women and science/technology, makes an effort in many different ways to increase the involvement of women and girls in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

Join us at the 2014 European Ada Award Ceremony – taking place as part of the “e-Skills – Making a Career with Digital Technologies” event on 30 October 2014 in Rome, Italy – where we will announce the 2014 European Digital Impact Organisation of the Year™!

©2013-2014 Digital Leadership Institute, asbl/vzw
Place Van Meyelplein 24
1040 Brussels, Belgium

Europe Celebrates First Ada Award-winners at ICT 2013

On 7 November 2013 at Europe’s largest ICT event, ICT 2013, Ms. Neelie Kroes, Vice President of the European Commission responsible for the Digital Agenda, announced the winners of Europe’s first-ever Digital Girl, Digital Woman and Digital Impact Organisation of the Year Awards. Affectionately known as the “Ada Awards” after Ada Lovelace, in their inaugural year the Awards enjoy the patronage of Vice President Kroes and are an official pledge to the Grand Coalition for Digital Skills and Jobs in Europe.

“I am so happy to congratulate these talented women and girls who have achieved great things in ICT,” said Vice President Kroes of the first group of Ada Award-winners. “And I hope they go on to inspire more women to explore the digital sector,” she added.

For distinguishing themselves in digital studies and careers, and for promoting greater participation of girls and women in digital sectors, Vice President Kroes recognised the following individuals and organisations for the 2013 Ada Awards in Europe:

Sasha is founder of both the European Centre for Women and Technology and the Bulgarian Centre of Women in Technology, having launched the latter at end 2012. During her career as a global executive for Hewlett-Packard, Sasha succeeded in attracting key investment in the ICT sector in Bulgaria that resulted in thousands of new digital jobs. She is responsible for launching and actively contributing to a multitude of outreach activities that aim to inspire girls and women to pursue digital careers in Bulgaria and beyond.

14-year-old Amy has been coding for three years and has inspired people of all ages with her keynote speeches at the Raspberry Jamboree, Campus Party EU and Wired: Next Generation. She teaches older pupils how to code during her school lunch breaks and with the Manchester Girl Geeks.

Lune develops her own games and interactive movies with CoderDojo. She designs robots and dreams of becoming an engineer. At nine years of age, she is already a true digital visionary and has a track-record of getting girls her age excited about digital endeavor.

 

The Hochschule für Technik und Wirtschaft is Berlin’s largest University of applied sciences. In 2009, HTW inaugurated an innovative women-only bachelor program, “Frauenstudiengang Informatik und Wirtschaft”, aimed at increasing leadership for women in technology. The program accepts forty applicants every year and celebrated its first graduating class in 2012.

As part of their award, each girl finalist for the first-ever European Adas received a brand-new HP Slate7 from Hewlett-Packard, and all the finalists are eligible to spend shadowing days at different SAP locations around the world in the coming year. The Award partnership is grateful to HP, SAP and Facebook for their contribution to the European Ada Awards.

The Ada Awards are an initiative of Zen Digital Europe in partnership with the Council of European Professional Informatic Societies (CEPIS), DIGITALEUROPE, the European Centre for Women in Technology (ECWT) and European SchoolNet, and were created to celebrate European female talent in digital fields, promote European role models, and recognise organisations that support diversity in digital sectors.

The Ada Award partners view the ICT 2013 celebration as a major milestone in promoting women in digital studies and jobs in Europe, and hope it will ignite more initiatives attracting and retaining women in these sectors in Europe and beyond.

For further information about the Ada Awards and actvities of the Award Partners, please contact us.

2013 Finalists

Congratulations to the finalists for Europe’s first-ever Digital Impact Organisation of the Year™ Award!

berlingeekettesThe Berlin Geekettes are a community of women dedicated to helping aspiring and established female tech innovators. They believe that the more women get involved with tech design, development and leadership, the more successful and diverse our companies and products will be in the future.

ciscoAs part of its Inclusion & Diversity commitment, Cisco undertakes a range of activities around the world to support girls in making ICT relevant study choices. This includes the 2013 “Tech Needs Girls” campaign where Cisco sponsored a competition for school-age girls in Belgium to design a mobile application thus creating a great vehicle for introducing girls to ICT careers and ICT studies.

htwThe Hochschule für Technik und Wirtschaft is Berlin’s largest University of applied sciences. In 2009, HTW inaugurated an innovative women-only bachelor program, “Frauenstudiengang Informatik und Wirtschaft”, aimed at increasing leadership for women in technology.  The program accepts forty applicants every year and celebrated its first graduating class in 2012.

Join us at ICT 2013 on 7 November in Vilnius, Lithuania where Ms. Neelie Kroes, European Commission Vice President responsible for the Digital Agenda, will announce the 2013 Digital Impact Organisation of the Year™!