One IT Giant Does Its Bit To Bring UAE Girls & Tech Together

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Cisco hosted the UAE’s version of “Girls Power Tech” event on Thursday, May 4,  at their office in Dubai as a part of the company’s CSR initiatives.

Previously titled “Girls In ICT Day,” the event saw young girls from schools such as the Collegiate of American School and the Umm Suqeim Model School learn more about how  technology works, and what an average day at the multinational company looks like.

“We felt that networking is not something that young girls think about because maybe it’s hard to see what kind of job they will actually do,” says Frida Kleimert Knibbs, head of channels for Cisco’s East Region.

“A lot of girls still think that working for a IT company is very technical but IT is everything that helps in solving a problem for a customer or a business,” she adds.

Knibbs states that user interface companies like Microsoft and Google might find it easier to attract talent since these are brands that people would relate to easily as they can be seen.

The work a company likes Cisco does, on the other hand, might not be tangible, but it is a part of the same conversation, she said.

Girls in Tech is one among the other events the company organizes to break stereotypes of women working in the tech and IT sector.

These include “Women of Impact”, a professional networking conference and “Bring your kids to IT.”

15-year old Fatima Ali AlKaabi, one of the speakers at the event, is said to be UAE’s youngest inventor. She shared insights on her journey so far creating a total of 12 inventions, and why initiatives like the one she was attending

“With any kid when they want to do something, it starts with a triangle of support: family, school and the community. I received immense support from the first, but my school did not want me to get involved in robotics and my community thought I should be playing with Barbie dolls,” says AlKaabi.

When asked what needs to change to alter the general mindset, AlKaabi recommends that young girls should not judge anything until they have given it a fair chance.

“When I tell people that I am an inventor, they automatically think I am a nerd, but it is something I am proud of – being good at different things!”