Norden Follow up: Knowledge Sharing Workshops in Latvia and Estonia

Overcoming challenges of gender diversity in the technology sector requires pooling resources together and sharing best practices among different stakeholders and organizations. Although there are a number of powerful social initiatives addressing the lack of gender diversity in different countries, they all need to learn and share their knowledge, expertise, and lessons in order to achieve the fundamental synergy leading society to constructive changes. 

Collaboration is critical, as many gender equity issues are not unique, and many countries are trying to solve the same problems at the same time. Thus, the Nordic Council of Ministers Office in Lithuania, together with a Lithuanian mentorship and content sessions programme Women Go Tech, has launched a project encouraging female participation in the tech sector. With a goal to build a global partnership network, this project facilitates much-needed discussion about best practice examples and experiences in order to help such initiatives grow, collaborate, and scale-up in the Baltic Sea and Nordic Region. 

Most recently, Women Go Tech has organized two visits with local partners in Latvia and Estonia. Aiming to share the best practices, these events involved meetings with different stakeholders from corporate, governmental, NGO, and educational institutions. Project initiators – the Nordic Council of Ministers Office in Lithuania and Women Go Tech – strongly believe that gathering people from different backgrounds and business sectors will inevitably lead to tangible policy changes and gender gap reduction. 

During Riga visit, Women Go Tech team has organised a workshop in a close partnership with Riga Tech Girls – the first community in Latvia educating and inspiring girls and women about technology. A wide range of stakeholders, including companies such as Accenture, Cognizant, Microsoft Latvia, Deloitte, together with the British Embassy in Riga and Nordic Council of Ministers office in Latvia have participated in the discussion. This knowledge sharing workshop, dedicated to the development of an inclusive tech ecosystem, has put together an action plan with best practices and tools to solve gender equality issues. Among the other issues that have arisen during the discussion were the lack of female role models and knowledge about the technology sector. It is apparent that the necessity to educate the society about different job positions in the tech sector and the demand for good examples and success stories is massive.

Tallinn’s visit has drawn attention to cultural norms and stereotypes that are still quite persistent in society. Women’s hesitancy to apply for tech jobs, the tendency of some HR specialists to see men as being superior for tech positions compared to women – these are just a couple examples of urgent topics that desperately need our attention. The stakeholders’ discussion, attended by participants from the corporate and human rights sectors as well as by female students, was concluded with the idea that these concerns require changes not only on an individual but on an organizational level. Most importantly, the societal shift must happen at an early age when children enter the educational system. Many of the root causes of gender diversity issues are deeply connected to how our society sees and perceives individual members based on their gender. 

A lack of gender diversity carries with it a major cost for organizations and countries worldwide. Fortunately, more and more institutions recognize that reducing the gender gap in the labour market must be the number one priority on their agenda. But there are lots of work to be done, and we are determined to explore possibilities and build stronger relationships with other organizations. We strongly believe that by increasing the scale and impact of initiatives that tackle the gender gap, we could see positive shifts both in the technology sector as well as the overall labour market.