EFECynthia de Benito Lisbon

Career or family: if you choose the former, you may not be sexy. So go the stereotypes women who venture into technology continue to face, a field in which they are beginning to say "enough is enough" and it's time to design a future that includes the other half of humanity.

The feeling is that the debate about the lack of female presence in the top ranks of this sector has been modulating, and it is no longer a question of asking for space, but of assuming that it is also their place.

Ambition to build a future that the current generation of young people imagines in the short term and even emphatically: "I think that in ten years probably women will dominate technology," Aminata Dembele, a 21-year-old French woman who wants to widen that path, tells Efe .

Dembele is one of the 27 young women - one for each State of the European Union (EU) - who this week discovered in Lisbon, in a meeting organized by Huawei, what are the obstacles that women face to develop a career in technology, where stereotypes reign.

"There are ideas with which we have grown up and which are things that we have very internalized, and to be recognized for the same work as a man you have to work twice as hard," says her Spanish colleague Marta Campos Fornés, also 21 years old.

It is not the only difference that this student of Mathematics and Physics sees: "You are going to end up getting promoted because of your merits and not because of your potential, as happens with some men," she says without bitterness, but with a feeling of confidence that things are going to change.

FAMILY OR CAREER

"I would like to know if I am going to have to prove more than a man..."

"I have been told that you have to choose between having a career or a family, because technology is more demanding..."

"They have told me that women are too sensitive for this sector..."

The above are comments repeated by the women taking part in the summer course.

They are between 18 and 24 years old and study fields ranging from economics and finance to cybersecurity, mathematics and languages. They are sure that they can help improve technology with their knowledge. But they still have doubts.

Experts in the sector acknowledge that they have even had to ask if they have been invited to conferences - where they represented 10% - just enough to meet a quota, and that in some cases they have even scheduled their maternity around their professional and family lives.

They have experience, they have faced comments and they make it clear to the next generation that it is necessary to push, that it is time and that the first barrier is to forget preconceptions.

"It is a mixture of inherited obstacles and women's own perception of what it means to work in these sectors," Beatriz Becerra, a former MEP and human rights expert who accompanies the women, told Efe.

She reminds them that the moon they see in Lisbon is the same one that illuminates the women of Kabul, a million opportunities away. That they have a responsibility for their situation and their own talents not only to advance them, but to help others to do so. And that has to be now.

THE COST OF WOMEN NOT DESIGNING THE FUTURE Because not intervening in technology will have a cost not only for women, but also for the world in general, which will be "worse off," says Spanish MEP Lina Gálvez Muñoz.

Being left behind, she says, will not only mean "not having opportunities or entering the highest valued and highest paid jobs," which is "very important for our autonomy, for our opportunities, for our life, for freedom, for equality."

"We are not designing the future. And that is very bad for us because we are going to be excluded from that future. Our vision is going to be excluded from that future and there is the third question: the world will be worse. It will be much worse, because our socialization brings other values ??and we seek to a greater extent the well-being of all people."

FROM ALL SECTORS

"It seems very important to us that all girls understand that technology is also for them, even if they do not have deep technological knowledge. That is, if you study Philosophy, Journalism, Natural Sciences, Psychology, History ... technology gives you opportunities too," Berta Herrero, head of Huawei's summer school, tells Efe.

"The future is now," says Herrero, and the girls nod, confident. They don't want to wait for another generation. EFE

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(This report is part of a series that has the support of Huawei. The editorial content of Efe is independent of the positions of this company)

(More information about the European Union at euroefe.euractiv.es)