DLI Celebrates Top Women in Tech

On 30 November 2017 at BeCentral in Brussels, the Digital Leadership Institute and its partners welcomed over two hundred key stakeholders and community members to celebrate the fifth edition of the European Ada Awards and to share the success stories of the 2017 Digital Brusselles project with support from the Digital Belgium Skills Fund. The Ada Awards are a long-standing pledge to the European Digital Skills and Jobs Coalition that recognise top European girls and women in tech and the organisations that support them.

Ms. Cheryl Miller, DLI Founder, opened the evening with a warm thank you to DLI supporters, followed by keynote presentations from Ms. Céline Vanderborght, Brussels Region Smart City Manager and Ms. Andrea Almeida Cordero, Member of Cabinet for Ms. Mariya Gabriel, European Commissioner for the Digital Single Market. Both speakers committed their support and that of their stakeholders to active engagement of girls and women for fulfilling the vision of an inclusive digital Europe.  A subsequent tweet about the event by Commissioner Gabriel was very well received on Twitter.

Opening presentations were succeeded by graduation of over sixty participants from the 2017 Digital Muse After School program with Ms. Valentina Cala DLI Digital Creative Manager, and from the first-ever cohort of the CYPRO “First Steps” program with Ms. Mai Ensmann, DLI CYPRO Coordinator.

Ms. Katja Legisa, Digital Brusselles Director, then recognised 200-plus participants of the 2017 “Female Digital Starters” training program, followed by an inQube / Digital Brusselles project pitching session hosted by Ms. Lama Jaghjougha, a recent Syrian refugee to Belgium and founder of Move Women Refugees Forward. Initiatives presented included those launched in the context of inQube Move It Forward events over the past two years, including:

  • Brussely – a platform by/for/about Brussels Generation Y-ers, presented by Ms. Safia Bihmehdn
  • MESS – a gamified concert-going platform for Brussels citizens, presented by Ms. Alexandra Pykacz & Ms. Edith Euan
  • MIA – a virtual innovation space for Brussels citizens, presented by Ms. Muna Ibrahim
  • African Gist – an African tech internship program, presented by Ms. Cynthia Mukendy
  • Tabadoul – a professional mentorship program for women refugees led by ENoWM and DAW, presented by Ms. Sinem Yilmaz

A particularly moving moment of the evening came about when, as part of her pitch for the Brussely platform, Ms. Safia Bihmehdn read a poem she composed about her participation in the Move It Forward for Women in Media event, which as the poem describes, inspired her toward a whole new direction in digital entrepreneurship and in celebrating the youth and diversity of Brussels.

The final highlight of the evening was the 2017 European Ada Awards, launched with inspiring keynote presentations by Ms. Dinah Barret, Senior Solutions Architect for EMEA at Amazon Web Services, and Ms. Gabriela M. Juric, 2016 European Digital Girl of the Year, and co-hosted by Ms. Miller and Ms. Loredana Bucseneanu, DLI Strategy Officer.

2017 European Ada Award trophies were presented by Ms. Simone Hume of Amazon Web Services in the following categories and announced by noted Ada Award partner representatives:
1. Ms. Pascale Van Damme, Vice President and General Manager at Dell EMC Commercial Belux, is 2017 European Digital Woman of the Year, as announced by Ms. Austeja Trikunaite, Secretary General of CEPIS.

2. 2017 European Digital Girl of the Year honours were awarded in the following age categories:

15-17 Year Old Category, as announced by Ms. Kiki Walravens, GSMA:
Maeve Galvin (Ireland)

11-14 Year Old Category, as announced by Mr. Laurent Roux, Impact Officer at European Institute of Technology:

  • Aoibheann Mangan (Ireland)
  • Charlotte Johnson (United Kingdom)

10 Years and Under Category, as announced by Ms. Tomislava Recheva of European Schoolnet:

  • Helena Staple (United Kingdom)
  • Zara Ilyas (Ireland)
  • Ruby Scott Kenny (Ireland)

3. Teen-Turn of Ireland is 2017 European Digital Impact Organisation of the Year Award, as announced by Ms. Michela Palladino, Director of European Policy at Developers Alliance.

The 2017 European Ada Awards and Digital Brusselles celebration concluded with a reception catered by From Syria With Love, an organisation led by recent Syrian women refugees to Belgium that Digital Brusselles is honoured to support.

The Digital Leadership Institute and Digital Brusselles would like to thank the speakers, judges, partners and sponsors of the 2017 European Ada Awards and Digital Brusselles celebration, including the Digital Belgium Skills Fund, Amazon Web Services, European Institute of Technology, CEPIS, European Schoolnet, Edosoft, GSMA, Developers Alliance and BeCentral.

Congratulations to all the girls and women recognised by this year’s Ada Awards and Digital Brusselles celebration. We are looking forward to welcoming even more of you again next year!

DLI Wrap-up 2016

Banner Year for DLI: In 2016, the Digital Leadership Institute directly reached over seven hundred girls and women with hands-on workshops and role model activities aiming to improve their ESTEAM* skills and promote their participation in strategic, innovative sectors of the economy — as creators, entrepreneurs and leaders.  We thank you for your support of DLI in 2016 and, with your help, we look forward to positively impacting the lives of more girls and women in 2017!

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Support DLI in 2017:  If you would like to support the ongoing work of DLI to promote inclusive digital transformation, which is reaching some of the most under-served communities in Europe, please consider donating to our institute or supporting us in other ways in the coming year.  US-based organisations can make a tax-deductible donation to DLI here.  Do not hesitate to contact us for more information on how to get involved.

Upcoming Events in 2017:  The following DLI events are coming up in 2017.  To keep up with the rest of our events, please visit our calendar or sign up for the DLI Newsletter.

2016 European Ada Awards smallUpdate November-December 2016:  On 8 December 2016 in Brussels, the Digital Leadership Institute celebrated the 2016 European Ada Awards recognising top girls and women in digital fields in Europe, and the organisations that support them.  The event was hosted by GE Garages in the context of European Vocational Skills Week 2016, and supported by top decision-makers from public and private sectors across Europe, including Belgian Deputy Prime Minister Alexander De Croo, Ms. Eva Paunova, Member of European Parliament, and Ms. Beata Stelmach, CEO of GE Poland.  DLI and its partners awarded the 2016 European Digital Girls of the Year, Digital Woman of the Year, and Digital Impact Organisation of the Year.

The DLI Board and Executive Team are actively involved in initiatives with partners and stakeholders around the world that promote ESTEAM* leadership by girls and women. Find out below about our work in November and December 2016, learn here about future activities in which we are involved, and visit our calendar for upcoming events organised by DLI.

*entrepreneurship, science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics


8 November – “Promoting Digital Skills for Girls” Webinar: Ms. Cheryl Miller, DLI Cofounder, was a special guest for an 8 November webinar on “promoting digital skills for girls,” hosted by the Innovation in Education Unit of the European Commission’s Directorate General for Education, Art and Culture.


wehubs17 November – “Enterprising Women in TechWeHubs Closing Event (Brussels): On 17 November in Brussels, Ms. Cheryl Miller, DLI Cofounder, judged the final pitch competition and contributed to an expert panel on “best practices in promoting female entrepreneurship,” in the context of the closing event of the WeHubs project for women web entrepreneurs in Europe.


debaets debates21 November – “Make America Great Again” – Debaets Debates (Brussels): On 21 November in Brussels, Ms. Cheryl Miller, DLI Cofounder,  joined a high profile public debate on the topic of “Make America Great Again” hosted by Ms. Bianca Debaets, State Secretary for the Brussels Capital Region, and moderated by Mr. Rik Van Cauwelaert, journalist for De Tijd.


sme-assembly-201623-24 November – “Helping Europe’s Entrepreneurs Reach New Heights” 2016 SME Assembly Slovakia (Bratislava): On 23-24 November in Bratislava, Ms. Rosanna Kurrer, DLI Cofounder, contributed to a high-level roundtable on “Entrepreneurship Education” at the European Commission’s annual SME Assembly, taking place as part of the Slovak Presidency of the EU Council.


thinkdigital29 November – Think Digital “Shaping the Digital Future of Europe” (Brussels): On 29 November, Ms. Cheryl Miller, DLI Cofounder, moderated an expert panel on “Shaping the Digital Future of Europe,” including Belgian Deputy Prime Minister Alexander De Croo and Ms. Kaja Kallas, Member of European Parliament, which took place at Egmont Palace in Brussels as part of the first Think Digital summit.


logo_sfg1 December – A Journey into European Factories of the Future (Graz, Austria): On 1 December in Graz, Austria, Ms. Cheryl Miller, DLI Cofounder, delivered a closing keynote on the topic of “Industry 4.0” for the event “A journey into European Factories of the Future,” organised by SFG.


Be sure to visit our Calendar, Upcoming Activities page, and sign up for the DLI Newsletter in order to keep up with DLI events and activities!

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Belgian Minister De Croo Recognises Top Girls and Women in Tech

On 8 December in Brussels, Belgian Deputy Prime Minister Alexander De Croo recognised top girls and women in digital fields in Europe and underscored the need for positive role models, coding curriculum and communities of excellence to encourage youth toward digital careers. “Young people need inspiration,” De Croo said in remarks at a ceremony for the 2016 Ada Awards, named for Lady Ada Lovelace the world’s first computer programmer. “That inspiration comes from seeing excellent people at work, like the girls and women recognised by these awards.”

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Alexander De Croo, Belgian Deputy Prime Minister & Minister for the Digital Agenda

De Croo’s comments came on the heels of news that women make up fewer IT professionals than ever in Europe despite skyrocketing demand for digital expertise. “Over the last ten years, demand for tech specialists in Europe has grown eight times faster than other fields, but women hold just sixteen percent of these jobs,” explained Cheryl Miller, cofounder of Brussels-based Digital Leadership Institute and organisers of the Ada Awards. “By 2020, one million IT jobs will go unfilled because the skills are not available in the marketplace,” Miller continued. “So by engaging women, we can potentially double the number of tech experts in Europe, increasing European competitiveness and making sure girls and women do not get left behind in the digital disruption.”

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Fireside Chat: Niamh Scanlon (14yo Ireland) – 2015 Digital Girl of the Year, and Rosanna Kurrer/DLI

Nuria Oliver, winner of the 2016 European Digital Woman of the Year Award, noted that digital disruption risks exacerbating the lack of diversity in tech, but also holds promise for positive change. “The percentage of girls and women in technology in most Western countries is simply not acceptable,” Oliver observed. “But in the future, we will only be able to address problems like global warming and the ageing population with the help of technology. So we need all our diverse human capital on board: to optimise innovation potential and to increase our chances of success in these important fields.”

According to Beata Stelmach, CEO for GE Poland, workforce diversity and digital transformation are two opportunities that GE, hosts of the 2016 Ada Awards ceremony, is explicitly leveraging for success. “We see GE as a 124-year-old software startup,” said Stelmach. “And with this thinking, we seek to pioneer a digital industrial sector that could contribute as much as $1.7 Trillion to European GDP annually by 2025.”  In order to fully exploit the opportunities that digitisation brings,”it will be key to engage the entire European workforce,” she added. “And women in particular.”

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Disrupted Workforce Panel: Cheryl Miller/DLI, Beata Stelmach/GE, Andrea Parola/eSkills Association, Esther Roure/CISCO, Eva Paunova/MEP

Cerys Lock and Gabrijela Juriç, winners of the 2016 European Digital Girl of the Year Award, echoed the message of Deputy Prime Minister De Croo.  Fourteen-year-old Cerys, feels that more computer science curriculum in school would be critical to get young people, girls included, engaged in the digital transformation. She reflected on the era of the Commodore 64 and said “forty years ago that computer was popular and got people into coding.  We need something similar today, like the Raspberry Pi, that I personally am a huge fan of.”   Gabrijela, also 14, added:  “I am just proud that what I am doing actually matters to people in the sector. That really inspires me to keep going.”

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Digital Girls of the Year 2016: Gabrijela Juriç (14yo – Croatia) and Cerys Lock (14yo England)

Deputy Prime Minister De Croo summed up the awards event:  “When someone is good at something you need to show it and congratulate her for what she is doing,” he said.  “That is why the Ada Awards and the work of DLI is important:  You need to show examples, and these young ladies are just the kind of examples we all need to see.”

The 2016 European Ada Awards were presented in the following categories to the noted recipients:

2016 European Digital Woman of the Year:  Ms. Nuria Oliver, Spain
2016 European Digital Girl of the Year:  Miss Gabrijela Juriç, Croatia (14 years old)
2016 European Digital Girl of the Year:  Miss Cerys Lock, England (14 years old)
2016 European Digital Impact Organisation of the YearCyberMentor, Germany

The Ada Awards are an initiative of Brussels-based Digital Leadership Institute in partnership with the Council of European Professional Informatics Societies (CEPIS), DIGITALEUROPE and European SchoolNet. The awards are named for Lady Ada Byron of Lovelace, the world’s first computer programmer.  They are an official pledge to the Digital Skills and Jobs Coalition in Europe.

The Digital Leadership Institute is a Brussels-based think tank whose mission is to promote inclusive digital transformation.

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