Women In Technology Panel, Wroclaw, Poland

Last week, I was privileged to participate as a panellist and co-organiser in the Women in Technology Panel in Poland, Eastern Europe. A list of the other panellists can be found here. In particular, I would like to thank Gosia Borzecka for her help and hard work in making the event a success. I’d also like to thank Tobias Koprowski for suggesting the idea for the Poland SQLDay event, and for his support. I’d also like to thank Maciej Pilecki and the rest of the Poland team for their organisation in making it happen.
I’d also like to say a big Thank You to SQLPass (website | Twitter) for their support in providing us with a set of their SQLPass Summit 2011 DVDs. As someone who has the DVDs for 2011 and 2010, I can say that they offer fantastic learning by video.
We had a record number of attendees: I counted 63 attendees, with only 7 women (excluding panellists) attending. I am delighted to say that 56 men attended, and only a handful of these gentlemen said that they worked beside female technologists. I would like to thank everyone who attended for their lively and interesting commentary.
The topic of discussion concentrated mainly on attracting younger women and girls into STEM disciplines at school and university, and then retaining women in these disciplines throughout their working careers.
One excellent proposal was put forward by Carmen Pentek, who explained that she’d participated in a mentoring program at university in Austria. In the program, women in the senior years at University mentored the younger years in a voluntary informal maths club, where the younger women had the freedom to ask questions related to mathematics, form friendships with other STEM women, or obtain advice on a range of other topics from the senior women. Personally, I think that this is a fantastic idea since it provides role models for the younger women in addition to providing practical study support.
One thing was very clear to me: the Polish community prize their education system, and feel passionately that their system should prepare Polish children to go out into the workplace and make a difference in their world. They realise that it enables their children to succeed and do well, and there is a very strong work ethic. It was good to see that this value of education applied also to girls as well as boys, and the audience were very enthusiastic about improving subjects such as maths, sciences and computing.
As a final note: a bit of fun 🙂 Gosia organised a commemoration mug for our visit, and this was a very special gift for me. I have enclosed the photo here. This always makes me smile, and it is too ‘special’ for me to use, so I keep it on my desk!
As a final note, I’d like to say a huge thank you to the Polish community for their generous welcome and I look forward to seeing them again in the future.

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