Diversifying the Conversation

Many believe that the 21st century will be the century of women; that we will see unprecedented progress in gender equality and female participation at all levels in our societies. Initiatives are multiplying all around the world to promote equality and propel women to be leaders in their fields. CERN’s Women in Technology (WIT) community was born in early 2016 in the same spirit and now invites you all to a film screening of CODE - Debugging the Gender Gap in September.

The idea for a CERN WIT group began when several new members of the IT department realised that the Women in Technology networks from which they had benefited at university and in industry did not exist at CERN, or even in the Geneva area. After speaking with like-minded colleagues, they decided to found a group at CERN where colleagues could exchange ideas on common topics and share career advice and experiences. In February 2017, WIT established its Steering Committee, which organises events such as “WIT Talks” (see below), lectures and collaborations with external groups.

An increasing amount of research is being done on the importance of diversity and the positive impact it has on productivity and culture, and conversely on the damage that a lack of diversity and inclusion can cause. WIT provides an environment in which women are not in the minority when interacting with technology, allows them to build a network and enables male allies to support the cause.

WIT Talks are interviews with women in leading roles at CERN, in industry or in academia about their careers and backgrounds, giving them the chance to inspire fellow women and share their views on how to improve the gender balance with the whole CERN community. These talks prompt positive discussion among both women and men at CERN interested in equal opportunities. We have had the chance to listen to many interesting and inspiring women including Maite Barroso (IT Deputy Department Head), Charlotte Warakaulle (Director for International Relations) and Sudeshna Datta Cockerill (Ombud), to mention only a few. More talks are scheduled to take place in the next few months! Also keep an eye out for our planned series of interviews with male colleagues around why gender diversity is important to them, starting with physicist John Ellis.

To broaden our network beyond CERN, WIT is also in touch with similar groups at other organisations, like Google and HP. Thanks to these relationships, we visited Google in Zurich in March and have visited HP’s local offices several times. WIT has also collaborated with other initiatives at CERN including the Cine Club, the Running Club and Arts at CERN.

WIT is open to all CERN colleagues. People interested in learning more about WIT can visit the webpage cern.ch/wit and join the e-group wit-matters, through which upcoming events are advertised and interesting reading material is shared.

On Monday, 11 September at 12 noon, in collaboration with the CERN diversity office and the IT department, WIT will be hosting a screening in the Council Chamber of the award-winning documentary CODE - Debugging the Gender Gap. The screening will be followed by open discussions, during which finger foods will be provided. We look forward to seeing you there!