We kicked off the fourth day of the EU Summer School with a neuroscientist who harnesses the potential of computer science, innovation, and gaming to connect more girls to coding. Dora Palfi, a Forbes 30 under 30, co-founded and co-leads imagiLabs, a tech company that empowers girls to be creative with technology. Dora gives coding superpowers to girls and nonbinary kids so that the next generation is equipped to use technology and shape the future. How does she do it? Palfi works with new business models: she facilitates opportunities in the digital world and makes learning Python fun and relevant.
After this insightful experience in digital learning, we examined the importance of leading with the purpose of creating a sustainable, inclusive world with an all-female panel moderated by Shada Islam, Managing Director of the New Horizons Project. She stressed that we live in a complex world and need to learn to cooperate. “We should address inequality issues because this is one of the biggest trends in the world”.
What sort of leadership do we have?
Roberta N. Haar, Professor of Foreign Policy Analysis and Transatlantic Relations at Maastricht University, said that “we need leaders that are innovative, that value clean oceans, climate change, and ensure a clean and healthy environment and a sustainable management of natural resources. They should care about climate change as much as they care about business and industries”.
What can industry do to address challenges?
Luisa Santos, Deputy Director-General of Business Europe, represents the interests of over 20 million companies in Europe. She thinks that “we need to make big changes in climate change and digitalisation. We are not self-sufficient in Europe, so we need to diversify instead of depending on one country or one supply. We need several approaches, we need to develop technology, and we need financial support. More than 90 per cent of European companies are medium and small companies”. She pushed for business to have a more active role in politics. “Business needs to play its part in politics. Some business people are not fully aware of that. We also need to rely on global organisations such as the G10”.
Get involved in politics!
Sabina Ciofu, Head of EU and Trade Policy at TechUK, explained that “we are faced with the huge task of designing a new social contract. Tech and education are key components. But what will make the difference is the cohort of political leaders we have. My call to you is to get involved in the politics of your community, country and the EU”.
Involvement. Commitment. Advocacy. What better way to embrace these skills and lead the way than by understanding the media industry? James Harding, a British journalist and former Director of BBC News, joined us to discuss what’s changing in the media landscape and how media corporations look at gender inclusion. He told our 27 #NextGenChangeMakers how to become well-informed global audiences. “To understand the world you need to invest time reading newspapers. At least, 45 mins to 1 hour before you start your day”, he stressed. “In politics, public policy or business careers, you need to understand what happens in the world”. He criticised how anti-establishment politics are trying to spread misinformation and fake news around the world. “Maintain independent journalism and fight for it. If we lose our freedom of information we won’t be able to be pluralistic societies and to have different opinions”.
How can we make sure women have space to raise their voices for equality?
After lunch, the discussion led by Luisa Baldini, Co-Founder of Composure Media and former BBC Royal Correspondent, focused on equality in the digital era. How to use social media to raise our voice? How to use the media industry to demand equal pay and equal representation? Luisa kicked off the conversation by asking our expert professionals: what is the greatest challenge for media organisations to become more inclusive?
Gunta Sloga, Executive Director of The Baltic Centre for Media Excellence, said that as a correspondent with broad experience in different countries, she knows that “women in media have more difficulties than men in getting top level positions and being promoted. Media have not just to include gender equality but all kinds of inclusivity”.
Roberta Cianetti, Social Media Director at Conde Nast Italia, thinks that “media have to reshape themselves, to change the perspective. We need to change the culture of companies. Media employers should address these issues, also in the content they produce. We should have more female role models in media”.
Inês Mendes da Silva, CEO of Notable, said that “each individual can be an agent of change. We can use the influence of social media to create community and to change the mentality of people around the world. We are very capable of changing media and institutions. Let’s do it in an effective way”
Taking the conversation to the next level, David Jiménez, former Director of El Mundo, and columnist at The New York Times shared ideas on how to advocate for human rights through social media and reach well-informed global audiences. Leveraging his experience in Afghanistan and looking at the current situation, he said, “Media and influencers can put some pressure, they can criticise the situation of human rights in Afghanistan to reach global audiences. We can use social media to engage with global audiences. There is a chance to build a network outside Afghanistan to help these women in the future”. A student asked him “can we regain the trust of the Afghan women?” and sadly, David answered that he does not think so, but he insisted to keep fighting for their rights. “We cannot leave Afghan women after 20 years of involvement, we still have to do something to support them. Social media can help. Just make sure it is not a superficial thing. There must be a real engagement with Afghan women”.
Speaking of role models, the Lisbon Summer School had the great honour of receiving Professor Elvira Fortunato, a pioneer in nanotechnologies, Vice-Rector of NOVA University and Director of the Materials Research Centre (CENIMAT). She said that Portugal is minimising gender inequality in the area of research at the Academy. “At NOVA University we realise that we need to rethink stereotypes to build a more inclusive world and bring innovative ideas that will also improve our research capabilities”, said Elvira. To achieve this, there is a need to break gender stereotypes, as they have direct implications on future policies, Academia and industry. Nanotechnology is a field of research and innovation with the potential to increase the efficiency of energy consumption, help clean the environment, and solve major health problems. It is said to be able to greatly increase manufacturing production at significantly reduced costs. Given the promise of nanotechnology, the race is on to harness its potential - and to do so, more women should join the nanotech revolution.
Leadership comes with huge responsibility. Being a leader can be overwhelming. Good leadership requires balance, a supporting team, and commonly identified objectives. Being mindful of leadership and our role in society can be a challenging task. Our students, had the opportunity to attend a workshop on mindful leadership. We learned that good leaders don't judge, they pay attention to the present moment, and are aware of their emotions. Such mindful leadership is especially important to overcome the current global crisis connected to COVID-19 and climate change. The fourth and concluding day of the EU Summer School navigated these most pressing global challenges to find common solutions. To be continued…
Is this the first time you are reading about us?
The Summer School for Female Leadership in the Digital Age of the European Leadership Academy is part of HUAWEI’s broader initiative Seeds for the Future. It represents the company’s continued commitment to digital inclusion. We want to close the gender gap and empower women to lead us into the digital future.