Emphasizing that the rate of women in employment is gradually increasing, Zehra Öney, President of the Women in Technology Association (Wtech), says: “Our association has students who are willing to start up their career in the technology field and to expertise and who are employed in many institutions. We believe that with the innovations we will make in the fields of contributing to employment, research, development, and producing projects, we will increase these rates even more and we will see a balanced gender ratio in our country.”
We would like to hear from you about the founding purposes and fields of activity of Wtech, the Women’s Association in Technology, which was launched in 2019.
It has always been on my mind that expertise is scarce and sexist in the age of technology and that it is a problem to be solved. From this point of view, we started our preparations in 2017 to enable individuals to discover their potential in technology, specialize in this field, and be able to use technology most accurately in their businesses and ventures. The Women in Technology Association was established in 2019 with the support of 75 founding institutions and individuals, and local and global leaders who work for the same goal. In line with our aims and objectives, we set the three main focal points of our association as education, sustainability, and research measurement. Based on our education focus, we established two academies: Wtech Academy and Young Transformation Academy. We support the young people who study under the umbrella of Wtech Academy with their technical education, talent management, scholarship opportunities, role model and mentor support, and employment issues.
At the Youth Transformation Academy, which we established under the umbrella and support of the Turkish Confederation of Employer Associations, we started a program that gives our students a worldwide certificate that starts with 21st-century leadership education and continues with technical education. As an association, we attach great importance to sustainability, which builds our future, and we produce projects to ensure the continuation of diversity and productivity. Today, we have a family of more than 160 members who aim to use technology correctly and support it with research and measurement. We aim to make our work sustainable by providing people with the expertise and skills required by the digitalized world, raising qualified specialists and productive human resources, increasing the rate of female employment in technology, ensuring diversity, and contributing to the technological power of our country that can be at the forefront of global competition.
As an association, what kind of development opportunities do you offer to women? Can you tell us about the advantages of the projects and trainings offered to women?
McKinsey estimates that from 400 million to 800 million individuals could be displaced by automation and need to find new jobs globally by 2030. Between 40 and 160 million women worldwide may need to move into more qualified roles by 2030. In this case, action is required. We offer an opportunity to ensure diversity by supporting the participation of women who are few in technology in R&D, innovation, and production. We are working to increase the motivation of our young girls studying in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) in production, science, and innovation in the field of technology, with the support of talent management, scholarship opportunities, network, and role model mentors. We also provide opportunities for the careers of the students who attend the training. Many students have started getting job offers after their education. We do not only offer training to our students but we also support them by providing employment in every field.
How are artificial intelligence and virtual reality, shown as the technologies of the future, positioned in the trainings of the association?
As a woman who has been working in the production of technology for 18 years, I have known how rapidly transformative technologies were gaining strength and that they would bring the world to a completely different life and work model at the beginning of the 21st century since 3G was actively used in Turkey in 2009. We have carried out invaluable studies and important projects in order for augmented reality technology to be established in Turkey, to be learned by users and brands, and more importantly, to produce this technology in software by Turkish engineers in Turkey. We are encouraged to buy and consume more than ever before, thanks to the online content that reaches us through many channels such as our mobile phones, which have become indispensable in our lives with the pandemic, the applications in them, social media, and the television channels we watch. E-commerce was the sector that showed the most growth during the pandemic days when the economy suffered great problems. The source of this is completely based on digital marketing. By staying at our homes and starting to socialize only digitally, the advertisements that we encounter frequently led us to buy more. Augmented reality technology is gaining more and more importance, especially since augmented reality is a tool for consumers to create the most accessible experience with a single device in their hands. These technologies, which provide profitability and efficiency for both the customer and the company, have had a great place in the marketing sector.
What advantages will sustainable technology create for business processes and the future of the planet?
Technology is the most important tool we have for sustainability. Thanks to technologies such as artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things, technological developments can be integrated into many city services from energy consumption to water use and from waste collection to public transportation. For the sustainability of consumers’ habits, preferences, product, and service demands, companies and brands need to be pioneers. Thus, we must implement promising innovations by creating sustainable products to greatly reduce ecological risks. As an association, we launched the Technological Innovative Solutions in Agriculture Competition in April 2021 to encourage new ideas, projects, products, and services that will contribute to the sustainability goals of agriculture and strengthen its impact, within the framework of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals “Zero Hunger”. We aimed to create a more livable world by combining women’s power in agriculture with technology, to contribute to the search for solutions for the development of agriculture in our country and achieve sustainable goals, supporting women to be role models by encouraging women in the agricultural industry and enabling women entrepreneurs to focus on sustainable Agricultural technologies. I would like to share a good news about this project that took place in the past days. Nanomic Biotechnology, the project’s winner, continues receiving new investments from many different investor groups after receiving an award of 100 thousand TL from our association.
The technology industry is one of the industries dominated by males. What should be done to completely change the perceptions towards women in the industry?
There are many difficulties for women in the male-dominated technology industry, but I think that this problem will gradually disappear in the changing and transforming digital world of the 21st century, where we are talking about a genderless society and qualified people. For this, besides providing employment for companies, studies should be carried out to prevent individuals and women from feeling competent and qualified in the technology industry. Information, production, and scientific training should be supported by different projects. Gender inequality is a huge problem in the world. At this point, we are making an effort. In the 2022 employment report of TUIK, the rate of women was 30.5 percent and the rate of men was 62.8 percent. The proportion of women is increasing. With this increase, we believe that we will increase these rates even more with the innovations we will make in the fields of contributing to employment, research, development, and producing projects and that we will see a balanced gender ratio in our country. The institution has students who are employed.
Our Trainings will be Continuing in 2023
We aim to enable individuals to benefit from the opportunities of our association without discriminating between men and women. The Turkey Technology Meetings we have held have been sustainable meetings where we want to visit many cities and bring together those who want to strengthen their business with digital-based business models and move towards a new future with new generation business models. At our meetings, we aim to provide benefits for the participants by bringing issues such as “e-commerce & e-export, digitalization, metaverse, NFT and blockchain” to the agenda. On the other hand, within the scope of the online and physical vision trainings of the “Miracles of Sprouts Technology and Innovation” project, which we carried out in cooperation with Türk Traktör, we will reach 4 thousand of university students throughout Turkey and help them acquire technology literacy. We will have many meetings and trainings going on in 2023.
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