The first edition of the event “High-Tech Women” that took place Wednesday, March 4, was a great success – more than 170 participants met at the Technical University of Darmstadt under the slogan “Empower. Encourage. Enter networks.”
The organizers’ team – Prof. Lejla Batina (Radboud University), Dr. Juliane Krämer (TU Darmstadt), Prof. Nele Mentens (KU Leuven) and Prof. Ahmad-Reza Sadeghi (TU Darmstadt) – welcomed all attendees: “It’s great to have so many inspiring women here and we welcome you to Darmstadt.“ The event was inspired by an established cryptography workshop for young female researchers (CrossFyre). However, the organizers aimed to broaden the scope to top female researchers in other high-tech areas.
The event featured over 20 renowned female speakers from academia as well as industry in the fields of Cybersecurity & Privacy, Artificial Intelligence and Data Science, as well as Electronics. Many of the female speakers shared their career paths and experiences along the way with the attendees. “Women are still underrepresented in leadership positions, also in professorships. Any university needs to do something against the ‘leaky pipeline’. More diversity at all entry points is necessary. But I think the future is bright and we are on the right way if we are encouraging girls from a young age.”, said Lejla Batina, professor for digital security in the Netherlands. “It’s not easy, but we can have it all.”
In the student panel discussion with Ph.D. students from TU Darmstadt, Radboud University and KU Leuven, moderated by Dr. Juliane Krämer, the young researchers shared their (tech) stories with the participants of the event. Panelist Thea Riebe from TU Darmstadt closed the discussion with an inspiring message in reference to Michelle Obama: ”Choose people who lift you up, who help you to become better, and do your part to lift up others." The second panel discussion, moderated by Prof. Ahmad-Reza Sadeghi, dealt with “Emerging Technologies: Opportunities and Risks”. The panellists debated the risks, challenges and chances that arise from new technologies like Artificial Intelligence, Neuromorphic Systems or the Internet of Things and their influence on privacy and data security.
The networking opportunities throughout the day were well received by the participants. Although the event focused on the female perspective on tech, everyone regardless of gender was invited to join the event. To increase family-friendliness, childcare was offered during the event. The general feedback from the attendees was very positive and it is planned to have a follow-up event of High-Tech Women in 2021.
The High-Tech Women event was organized by the Profile Area Cybersecurity (CYSEC) of TU Darmstadt, and financially supported by the Technology Innovation Institute and the Collaborative Research Center CROSSING at TU Darmstadt.