I was sitting in the final plenary of the first European Digital Agenda Assembly held in the Brussells Autoworld, amidst a world class collection of male status symbols from gangster limousines and sports cars to tanks and jet fighters, when the battery on my Netbook ran out. Otherwise I would have blogged on some of the more surreal discussions while they were happening.
On the eve of the Assembly the European Internet Foundation had a cocktail party at which Commissioner Neelie Kroes gave a robust summary of the challenges that would have to be addressed. Four of the most active MEPs on Information Society issues gave equally robust responses. Three of the four were female. Over 30% of the representatives friom industry in the audience were also female.
The contrast with the gender composition of similar meetings in the UK, sometimes with no women at all present, rarely with more than 5 – 10%, was marked.
But perhaps that is unfair because the EIF meeting and the subsequent Assembly were focussing on the use of technology rather than the technology itself.
When I was project manager of the orginal (and arguably most successful) Women onto IT Campagn (1988 – 92: when the Departmenty for Education and Skills torpedoed the exercise) we had clear evidence that a key gender difference was that men were focussed on the technology while women were focussed on applying technology to meet user needs.
At this point I have to add that the Assembly, for all its faults, restored my belief that it may, just, be possible to save the EU from becoming a muddy backwater of the Global Information Society as India and China take over from the USA in making the running with low cost, easy to use multi-lingual mobile products and services. I have said so on Neelie Kroes’ blog and would urge you all to be part of the follow up – lest my Netbook running out of battery be another metaphor for our progress towards a single Digital Market.