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Engaging Women in ICT: A View From Japan

IzumiOkutaniIzumi Okutani, Policy Liaison at the Japan Network Information Center (JPNIC) and active member of the APNIC community, talks about how she is helping women and girls get involved in ICT in the wider Asia Pacific Region and encourages women in tech in the African region to take the initiative to do the same.

I have been involved as one of the organisers of Tech Girls Social at Asia Pacific Regional Internet Conference on Operational Technologies (APRICOT) since the meeting in Fukuoka in 2015.

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                                                                                       Tech Girls event in Fukuoka in 2015

The Girls in Tech event is a lunch session and both women and men are welcome to participate. It is intended to encourage networking among participants and to share the experiences of women in the Industry. A few speakers are invited to share their experiences as ice breakers, then the floor is open for participants to ask questions, make comments about the information being shared or share their own experiences. You can find the agenda of the most recent Girls in Tech session at APRICOT2017 here.

Local Perspectives

We invite local speakers to the events and work together with someone local to organise the session. This way, we hear something new about activities in the local country. For example, Nguyen Thu Thuy from VNNIC helped to organise the 2017 session, which took place in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, and also served as the MC. We had three speakers from Vietnam. Tu Ngo shared experiences of working at a startup, Mai Thu Thu talked about her experience as a young and enthusiastic woman relatively new to the industry and Nguyen Thu Thuy shared information about a network of tech women she is engaged with. We also invited Nurani Nimpuno, CCO at Asteroid International, who serves in various leadership roles in the community, including as an ICANNASO ACmember and the Chair of the Review Committee for IANA Numbering Services. She shared her experiences of what women can do to help each other in providing opportunities to others, as well as the importance of not being overly humble about your abilities, and that it is OK to nominate yourself to leadership positions when appropriate.

Relaxed Environment 

This kind of social lunch setting creates very friendly vibes, and participants who may not necessarily have an opportunity to talk to each other during technical focused sessions, due to different areas of expertise, can interact freely over lunch. Everyone is welcome to share their own experiences but can also simply listen to experiences from others. It is also a great opportunity to hear from participants who attend the APRICOT meeting on a Fellowship. In addition to these face-to-face interactive meetings, APNIC has a blog series on women in ICT with perspectives from authors from many different countries in the Aisa Pacific region and beyond. 

Mutual Support 

There is no single answer for how women in our industry can work their way through in their career, and build their expertise and take advantage of all opportunities available to them. Each experience is unique, and we each face different environments. It is up to individuals to cultivate their own path. As such, through these initiatives, without imposing any stereotypes, I hope participants can take in what is applicable to their personal situations from the stories they hear from a wide range of different women and build a network to help and communicate with each other.


Vymala Thuron from AFRINIC speaking at the Women in ICT Event at APRICOT 2017

I have met several great women and men from Africa through the various conferences in our industry and they are all interesting and inspiring. If you have a chance to attend Tech Girls Social at APRICOT Conference, you are always welcome to join us in the session and in the dialogue and I encourage anyone in ICT to start such initiatives in your own communities.

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