President Bachelet presents the InspiraTEC 2017 awards, encouraging girls and youth to take an interest in science and technology
“The greater the number of women who are present in key areas of the economy, the more opportunities we will have to use our talents and hold leadership positions in science and business,” stated the President.
This afternoon, in the company of the Minister of the Economy, Luis Felipe Céspedes, and the Minister of Women and Gender Equality, Claudia Pascual, the President of Chile, Michelle Bachelet, participated in the InspiraTEC 2017 awards ceremony. The initiative, backed by the Ministry of Economy, aims to recognize and call attention to women who stand out in Chile’s fields of technology and the digital economy as well as inspire other women to join these economic and professional sectors.
“The greater the number of women who are present in key areas of the economy, the more opportunities we will have to use our talents and hold leadership positions in science and business,” said President Bachelet during the ceremony, which was held in the O’Higgins Salon at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
There were four InspiraTEC 2017 award winners: 1) Youth: Margarita Leiva who, while a student at the Curacautín Polytechnic school, undertook technological projects with a strong social commitment. Her projects included “the smart trash can” (basurero inteligente) and “Mapito”. 2) Professional or entrepreneur: Jocelyn Simmonds, a professor at Universidad de Chile, who has a doctorate in computer science and has done outstanding software development work. 3) Social impact: Francisca Varela has a degree in civil engineering from Universidad de Chile. In addition to her professional and academic experience, she works on the promotion and inclusion of women in technology through her work with Girls in Tech and Fundación Kodea.
Fourth, the jury decided to present a lifetime achievement award to Marcela Larenas in recognition of her more than 30 years in Internet development and incorporating IT into the educational environment. Ms. Larenas was the first female director of the Universidad de Chile’s computing center (1987) and the first female Information Technology director at the same university (1995).
In this second year, InspiraTEC award winners received Sol Guillón’s piece made from computing waste, Caballo RC 1.0, and were awarded a thematic trip.
Like last year, the youth category winner won a trip to Silicon Valley. Thanks to support of the Code Avengers, the second-place winner will be awarded a trip to New Zealand. The winners in the professional entrepreneurship and social impact categories were awarded a trip to a technology fair and US$5,000 in prize money. The lifetime achievement award winner was given a cash prize in the same amount.
“Margarita, Jocelyn, Francisca and Marcela, you have already made significant contributions, but you are called to do much more and not just in the field of technology. You are also called upon to inspire new generations with your example and to work energetically — as Marcela Larenas has done for more than 30 years — to knock down the barriers that make it difficult for women to advance in our country, broadening the horizons, dreams and opportunities of our fellow countrywomen,” encouraged President Bachelet.
The President noted that less than five percent of the world’s women are directly involved in the technology industry. In Latin America, only eleven percent of female higher education graduates work in fields related to science, technology, engineering or mathematics. In Chile, less than a third of all students in these programs are women.
“Our challenge is to get many more Chilean girls and youth to embark on the adventure of science and technology, to get more of them choose these fields of study, and to break down the barriers that stand in the way of tapping the enormous potential within our fellow countrywomen,” said President Bachelet.
In her speech, the President emphasized the fundamental importance of each girl, youth and woman knowing that she can choose the field she wants. No areas are “for men”. If women decide to and persevere, they can solve complex equations, create applications and technological tools, study gravitational waves, life on earth, atoms and subatomic particles or build bridges, tunnels and roads.”
She added that the government aims to contribute, with the help of civil society and private organizations, to changing this culture by “dismantling prejudice and the rigid molds that impact our girls and boys.”