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Innovative Initiatives (4/5) — WIDE: An Invitation To Code & Lead

We could spend the next few pages telling you about Luxembourg’s digital transformation. Instead, we want to show it to you. Digitalization is here & now, happening all around you thanks to behind-the-scenes innovators. Today, they get the spotlight. Consider this a taste of what our entrepreneurs contribute to the country every day — an exciting buffet of initiatives that could not be more different. Up close, they form a colorful collage of efforts, big & small, but zoom out & you see a picture of national transformation. Each of our team members have chosen a Digital Luxembourg-enabled initiative to introduce & highlight. All five have impacted us, the country &, now, you too. Here are their stories & Luxembourg’s.
(Featured Image: Federico Gentile, Project Manager at Digital Luxembourg / Image Credit © Silicon Luxembourg / Olivier Minaire)

WIDE: An Invitation To Code & Lead

Federico’s pick, Marina’s story.

When Marina Andrieu launched Women in Digital Empowerment (WIDE) five years ago, the concept of advancing women in tech was hardly the global cause that it is today.

“When we first started, people kept asking why we only focus on women, but now, society understands. It has changed so much, and companies are holding more events to promote diversity, which wasn’t a priority before,” she explained.

Progress has been made, but the numbers are far from pretty: there are four times more men with ICT-related studies than women; female founders received roughly two percent of VC funding last year; and, although there are more women in Europe, they only make up roughly a third of all entrepreneurs.

“NGOs play a vital role in addressing gaps and helping us achieve our goals as a society.”

“I’d like to see more success stories of women founders in Luxembourg,” Marina said. “At startup events, we have more and more women in the audience, but when you look on stage, the majority of pitchers and investors are men. So, there’s still a lot of work to be done.”

Fortunately for Luxembourg, WIDE has stepped up to the task.

“NGOs play a vital role in addressing gaps and helping us achieve our goals as a society,” explained Noemi Bausch, Project & Marketing Manager, Digital Luxembourg. “We help kickstart them because we believe they bring tremendous value.”

WIDE’s flagship program, Rails Girls – supported by Digital Luxembourg and part of an international community — draws around 50 participants. The free, one-day coding workshop for women and girls lets them learn in an inclusive, supportive environment.

In 2016, WIDE upped its level of impact by introducing a Startup Leadership Program. It chose 12 projects from 50 applications, three of which went on to become incorporated companies, with one joining Fit 4 Start. This year, the program is back again and on the hunt for eight women-led projects based on digital innovations.

“WIDE’s strategy might center on women, but its end goal is holistic.“

WIDE’s Startup Leadership Program is not the only offer being added to the menu in 2018. Despite the success of the one-day trainings, WIDE wants to give participants the chance to go deeper into coding. In November, it officially introduces a week-long workshop to be held multiple times a year, where participants will learn the basics of HTML, CSS and Javascript.

Taught in English and hosted at Technoport, each session totals 40 hours and invites a maximum of 15 people to work with two trainers. Best of all, its lively lessons are as fun as they are informative.

WIDE’s strategy might center on women, but its end goal is holistic: a society where everyone, including women, can tap into opportunities arising from the digital economy.

Federico Gentile | Project Manager | Digital Luxembourg

“In recent years, public & private initiatives have arrived to make new technologies & related knowledge more accessible to everyone. Yet, IT is still male-dominated, & being one of few women in a field or a class can be daunting. Women in Digital Empowerment (WIDE) offers learning environments dedicated specifically to women & girls. Participants of its coding workshops, talks & networking events might just leave with an itch to pursue their IT interests even further. Since everything we do at Digital Luxembourg revolves around citizens, “skills” is one of our priorities. Initiatives like WIDE make IT more inclusive, & we are proud to have been with them since the beginning.”

(This article was first published in Silicon Luxembourg magazine).

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