Stereotypes, gender discrimination, the acceleration of digital change due to Covid-19, and the use of technology in education
On 17 March, international law firm CMS organised the 2021 edition of the CMS Women in Business event, a meeting dedicated in principle to female professionals, collaborators and business partners. Already a CMS tradition, the event is an open platform for debate and exchanges of ideas promoting diversity, gender equality and innovation for change, in an informal, collaborative setting.
Organised online for the first time due to anti-coronavirus prevention measures, this year’s meeting was aligned with the International Women’s Day #ChooseToChallenge campaign, which encourages personal involvement in innovation and change, and was focused on the challenges that career women in the Tech industry must overcome.
Among the discussed topics were the stereotypes that female professionals in the Tech industry face, specific situations of gender discrimination encountered in Tech companies, where most employees are men, female leadership in Romania, and also the acceleration of digital change due to Covid-19, as well as the recent increased use of technology in education.
This year’s CMS Women in Business special guests were Elisabeta Moraru, CEO of Google Romania and Andra Sonea, Head of Solution Architecture at FintechOS. They discussed the professional challenges and how women can perform at the highest level in an industry that is still male-dominated.
“CMS is a global pioneer in terms of promoting diversity, equal opportunities, affirmative action, and multiculturalism. From this perspective, we are pleased to be able to host, as every year, this networking meeting together with our business partners and collaborators, with whom we share the same values and vision of an open, inclusive, meritocratic professional and business environment,” said Rodica Manea, CMS Romania partner and host of the CMS Women in Business event, together with Cristina Reichmann, partner and Cristina Popescu, senior counsel.
“Studies show that girls are mainly influenced by their mothers in choosing a profession or career path. We are therefore faced primarily with a cultural factor—women themselves being influenced by stereotypes. On the other hand, poverty is another factor that directly influences access to education and the chances for a successful profession or career. Progress and evolution can only come as a result of a process in education and self-education,” said Elisabeta Moraru, CEO of Google Romania.
“Women are underrepresented in the Tech industry, it’s a structural issue. The sad reality is that you are often the only woman in the room during business meetings. That is why we need to actively support and encourage women who want to succeed in the Tech industry. Self-confidence is key to career success,” said Andra Sonea, Head of Solution Architecture at FintechOS.
Participants emphasised the role of technology in education, stating that technology is not a priori either positive or negative, but it’s the role that matters. There are so many opportunities and tools in Tech, but it is our duty to educate and help our children in successfully transforming information into knowledge. Furthermore, poverty remains an important barrier globally to democratic access to technology.
The CMS Women in Business debates revealed that, even though Romania ranks better in terms of women’s representation in the Tech industry (compared to the UK for example), there is a major systemic imbalance. There is a need for a demystification of the narrative regarding women’s inability to take a leading role in society and in activities traditionally considered masculine, and a need for a sustained educational approach in combating stereotypes. Stereotypes start and follow us from childhood. The speakers emphasised the need to have national legislation to promote diversity and inclusion effectively, and concluded that the solution to narrowing the gender gap is investing in education for women and promoting successful role models and female leadership.