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!

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

Move It Forward Cairo for Female Digital Starters

On 8-9 October 2019 in Cairo, the Digital Leadership Institute organized a Move It Forward – female digital starters event in partnership with Outreach EgyptAWS and Women Entrepreneurship Platform.  The event, which included three trainings in digital skills plus coaching for ten women-led startups, reached forty teen and adult women with skills, community and mentorship to support them in their startup journey.

*Anyone who identifies as a woman

DLI Founder is EU Digital Champion

On 21 November in Brussels, Cheryl Miller Van Dyck, founding director of the Digital Leadership Institute International (DLII.org), was recognised by the Financial Times and Google as one of 100 digital champions of Europe.  Miller Van Dyck, who for ten years has led global efforts to increase participation of girls and women in technology sectors, was credited as being a leader and influencer in “promoting digital transformation in Europe.”  Miller Van Dyck and her 99 cohorts were selected from among over 4000 nominations by a jury of their peers representing industry and the public sector.  The digital champions report and event are part of an ongoing Financial Times series on “Europe’s Road to Growth.”

Read the full report here (Article/Image Page 21).

Move It Forward Leiden for Women’s Health

In collaboration with Women’s Business Initiative International, Webster University Leiden Campus and Women Entrepreneurship Platform, on 10-11 November 2018 in Leiden, the Netherlands, the Digital Leadership Institute organized a Move It Forward – female digital starters event. This event was supported by top technology companies, non-profit organisations, and youth and women’s networks and communities, and was an official activity of Women’s Entrepreneurship Day 2018, being celebrated on 19 November all around the world. The event’s objective is to give teen and adult women* the skills to become digital entrepreneurs and leaders, and to support them in driving positive change in their communities.
 

*Anyone who identifies as a woman


Move It Forward Leiden –  Programme:
Day One – 10 November (Saturday) :
  • 8:00-8:30 – Registration & Coffee
  • 8:30-10:30 – Opening Plenary:
  • Welcome
  • 10:30-12:30 – Workshop 1: Build & Launch your Online Presence in the Cloud with WordPress & AWS with Katja Legisa / DLI
  • 12:30 – 13:30 – Lunch Break
  • 13:30 -15:30 – Workshop 2: Develop a Smartphone App with MIT AppInventor for Android with Loredana Bucseneau / DLI
  • 15:30-18:00 – Brainstorming, Proposals, Idea Selection, Team Grouping and Project Work
  • 18:00-19:00 – Dinner
  • 19:00-22:00 – Project Work with Coaches

Day Two – 11 november (Sunday) :

  • 8:00-8:30 – Coffee and Danishes
  • 8:30-10:30 – Workshop 3: Google advertising and analytics / with Carina van Seling, Google
  • 10:30-12:30 – Project Work with Coaches
  • 12:30-13:30 – Lunch Break
  • 13:30-14:00 – Project Work with Coaches
  • 14.00-14.30 – Intoduction to successful pitching, Mr. Ron Lameij / Eisenfelt Academy
  • 14.30-16.00 – Project Work with Coaches
  • 16:00-17:00 – Presentation Preparation
  • 17:00-19:00 – Closing Plenary: Project Presentations and Judging, Awards
  • ++18:30 – Keynote Presentation of Ms. Snezana Zivcevska-Stalpers / IBM
  • 19:00-22:00 – Awards Dinner, Networking



Global Recognition for DLI Founder

On 1 March in Barcelona, Ms. Cheryl Miller Van Dyck, founding director of the Brussels-based Digital Leadership Institute, was recognized for her outstanding achievement in increasing participation of girls and women in technological studies and careers around the world. Miller, American by birth and a 20-year Belgian resident, was awarded the prestigious Global Mobile Award by a jury representing global ICT interests at the 2018 Mobile World Congress, whose attendance this year surpassed 100,000 visitors.

Miller received a GloMo Award in the “Industry Leadership Individual” category for what the jury called her “immeasurable impact” on increasing inclusion in the global tech sector over the past ten years.

The Digital Leadership Institute, founded by Miller in 2015, was also finalist for a Global Mobile Award in the “Industry Leadership Organizations” category, for the second year running.

For more details and contact, please find a press release here: PR CMiller Glomo 2018

DLI Founder Appointed to EU Digital Skills Board

On 28 September in Brussels, Ms. Cheryl Miller, Founder and Director of the Brussels-based Digital Leadership Institute, joined the first meeting of the Governing Board of the European Commission’s Digital Skill and Jobs Coalition, to which Ms. Miller has been appointed for a two-year term.

According to the Commission, the aim of the Digital Skills and Jobs Coalition Governing Board is to “provide strategic leadership and give high-level advice to improve the functioning and the impact of the Coalition, as well as monitoring its overall progress.” The Governing Board also represents the views of the Coalition partners at European level, and acts as a link between pledgers, national Coalitions and social partners.

At its first meeting, Ms. Miller accepted to lead the Governing Board’s work on “digital skills for ICT experts,” one of four digital skills pillars treated as priorities by the Coalition. Ms. Miller and her colleagues will provide recommendations in these areas to the new European Commissioner for the Digital Single Market, Ms. Mariya Gabriel, in the context of the Digital Skills and Jobs Coalition Conference, taking place in Brussels on 7 December.

Ms. Miller joins representatives of eleven other Digital Skills and Jobs Coalition stakeholders in the Governing Board, whose organisations represent pledging members, national coalitions, and Coalition social partners.

DLI Launches Europe’s First Female Tech Incubator

On 25 October in Brussels, the Digital Leadership Institute launched Digital Brusselles, Europe’s first female tech incubator, with the mission of promoting inclusive digital transformation by increasing leadership of girls and women in the digital society. The launch event, which took place as part of the first Open Door Day at BeCentral, was supported by the Digital Belgium Skills Fund and dozens of DLI partners, and attended by hundreds of DLI community members.

Ms. Saskia Van Uffelen, CEO of Ericsson Belux and Digital Champion of Belgium, provided a keynote to kick off the launch event and was joined in a panel on “The Heart of Inclusive Digital Transformation,” moderated by Ms. Cheryl Miller, DLI Founder, by luminaries from the Belgian and European technology ecosystem noted below:

The opening panel was followed with inspiring talks by Ms. Manon Van Hoorebeke, 2014 Digital Girl of the Year, and Ms. Christine Gerpheide, Senior Cloud Solutions Architect at Amazon Web Services. Over the course of the afternoon, Ms. Sandrine Droubaix — DJ Sand — and Ms. Valentina Càla, DLI Digital Creative Officer, led hands-on digital music composition workshops for participants of the Digital Muse After School program and BeCentral’s Open Door Day .

DLI Among Top Startups in Belgium

On 19 October, Brussels-based Digital Leadership Institute joined Digital First 2017 to celebrate being selected among the Best 100 Belgian Startups by a high-level jury organised by media company Digimedia. DLI team members, Ms. Valentina Calà and Ms. Katrien Geraedts, were on hand to greet investors and discuss the work of DLI, who has successfully launched Europe’s first female tech incubator, Digital Brusselles, and is driving world class programs to differentiate Brussels, Belgium and Europe as “the heart of inclusive digital transformation.”

“With a three-year track record as a social enterprise, DLI is outperforming most startups even outside its class,” shares DLI Founder, Ms. Cheryl Miller, about the recognition. “We believe this is as much about how innovative and impactful our work is, as it is about the engagement and dedication of our partners to our mission,” she says. “It is not every day, for example, that organisations like Amazon Web Services and the Digital Belgium Skills Fund come together to help drive positive change,” says Ms. Miller. “This is a testament to both the quality of the work we are doing and to just how important that work is — for which we feel very honoured.”