by Dr Konstantina Kyriakopoulou
- Senior Manager, Consulting & Security
As Project Manager in our EU Public Sector Department, Konstantina Kyriakopoulou is setting the foundations for our new IT framework contracts with the European Union. We spoke with her about gender equality and diversity, two topics she feels very strongly about.
Not only do you have a professional background in academia, which is somewhat rare already, but you also happen to be a woman, which makes you another rarity in our industry. Or am I exaggerating the ICT gender gap now, making it wider than it actually is?
“Unfortunately not. According to a report by the World Bank, women still only make up less than 40% of the total global workforce. As a result, there is a lack of representation and role models for women in ICT. This can definitely hinder a woman’s ability to succeed in our industry. But also, it can put limits on women’s opportunities for mentorship. And it can foster an unconscious gender bias in the company culture, leaving many women without a clear path forward, so to speak.”
Have you experienced that gender gap yourself in your career?
“Since I completed my Ph.D. in 2017, I have been working in the ICT sector. More specifically, for the past six years I have been privileged to lead large-scale ICT projects that bring really tangible benefits to society. Across these six years, on many occasions I have been the only woman in the room. If you think about it, this is worth a pause, right? As well as some further thought and action, I would say.
Not so long ago, in fact, I was listening to a speech by the Secretary-General of the United Nations, António Guterres, who mentioned that gender equality is growing even more distant. And he urges for collective action.”
Did your commitment to gender equality and diversity also inspire you to participate in this year’s competition for Young ICT Lady of the Year?
“A study made only a couple of years ago shows that no more than 17% of almost 8 million ICT specialists in the EU are women. So you can understand that I am personally committed also to creating a more inclusive and diverse workplace.
Every year, to honour women who have distinguished themselves in the ICT sector, Belgium’s leading IT magazine Data News organises an event called She goes ICT. This annual event, along with my nomination as a candidate for this edition’s Young ICT Lady of the Year award, offered me and my colleagues at Sopra Steria a free platform to remind people of the persistent disparity in gender equality in our industry and the ongoing need for systemic change. So it’s basically another means for us to raise awareness on this important issue.”
Looking back at the event and your nomination, what do you take away from it?
“What struck me in a pleasant way was the fact that the women shortlisted for these awards belonged to different organisational levels: from the CEO or director level to my level, which is senior or middle management, while also including consultants and even junior consultants. So a key personal takeaway from the event is that it further strengthened my conviction that we need more women at all levels, including the top, in order to change the dynamic, to reshape our conversations, and to make sure that different voices are heard throughout the organisation.
It also reminded me that we need more females – and males! – role models that will lead by example. Because it is one thing to talk about empowering women so they can pursue a career, but how we actually make a difference is by creating the necessary conditions for that to happen. To break the chains that hold women back, we need systemic change. This entails paying women what they’re worth, offering working mothers and their children far more support, and so on. Building a truly equitable world, in essence, requires that we make changes in the culture of our workplace so that all women are encouraged, supported, and effectively valued.”
What is your personal ambition in this field for the coming years?
“I’ve joined DiversiTeam, our local workgroup on gender diversity in the Benelux. Working together with my colleagues, I would like to encourage more and more women to join the ICT sector. My first aim for now is to actively support our organisation to hire more women. And to promote more women, across all levels of the organisation.”
To learn more about Konstantina’s career transition from academia to ICT consultancy, read our previous interview with her.
Curious about Konstantina’s nomination as Young ICT Lady of the Year? Check out her profile for the competition.