The New Normal: Women in ICT, Female Entrepreneurs in Bulgaria
Bulgaria is seeing some very encouraging trends when it comes to women in business and technology. The Bulgarian Center of Women in Technology (BCWT), founded in 2012, has recently observed notable progress on two fronts 1) a woman entrepreneur is no longer viewed as an exception in society and is becoming “normal,” and 2) many successful business women are ready to become mentors to young girls.
“We see more and more women entrepreneurs, and more and more startups that help young women and girl entrepreneurs,” said Nadejda Dermendjieva, program manager at BCWT. “We also see these girls and women connecting to each other through professional networks and communities…not only for social connections, they are also trying to influence and change state policies.”
Under the European Platform of Women in Technology (ECWT), BCWT works to bring together stakeholders from all sectors: business, government, academia, and NGOs to support women’s participation in ICT.
“We are very proud of our role-modeling meetings (seminars actually), “BCWT: Where Leaders Meet,” where successful women from the ICT sector tell their professional stories,” Nadejda said. “After the presentation, there is an informal networking session where women from middle management meet women from top management and where young girls meet professors, etc.”
This is one of the ways BCWT encourages girls and women and to take up a career in ICT, to become leaders in their communities and to become active participants in decision-making processes. Empowerment is a key part of their focus and mission.
But, facing gender stereotypes remains one of the keep challenges that BCWT encounters in its work.
“This is still the main obstacle in front of girls and women who want to achieve professional success in the sphere of ICT,” Nadejda said. “What we need most is institutional and financial support from the government and from the corporate sector – something we lack but are trying to change.
Some of the upcoming events BCWT has on the horizon are an academic debate between two universities, as well as a series of events in Bulgarian schools and universities that are sponsored by IT companies.
BCWT is a new organization and is trying to build partnerships with other organizations inside and outside Bulgaria.