Spearheading a generational breakthrough
My name is Nino and I’m from Georgia. I’m a tech enthusiast and a community builder. I lecture at the International School of Economics and manage the Innovations Support Fund, a local non-profit organization, founded by me and my friends to promote innovative thinking and tech-enabled transformation. I lead the Google Developers Group in Georgia. I am also the ambassador of Women Techmakers, a local chapter of Google’s initiative that aims to empower women and girls by supporting their participation, educational and career development in technology.
In Georgia we are spearheading a generational breakthrough: a tech-revolution that I believe, has the potential to bring more inclusion and equality than any other industry before it.
I started out in the humanities, so my first studies were in social science. A lucky encounter at the Ministry of Economy of Georgia opened the world of technology for me. That’s when I realized that technology and social issues are not only closely intertwined, but also that technology may become the driving force behind today’s social change.
The thing I noticed immediately was a gender gap in tech and science. In Georgia, as with the rest of the world, women and girls are often left on the sidelines of science, technology, economics and mathematics (STEM). In Georgia while girls score as well as boys in STEM, women receive less support, are consistently less confident, and ultimately make up only 12 percent of the workforce, especially in information and communications technology. At the same time, STEM employers are finding it difficult to recruit enough skilled employees.
Women need technology because it is the most promising and fastest developing market for the best paid, creative and interesting jobs. There are brand new professions emerging within the industry and the most magical and extraordinary thing about it is that we can create these jobs and perform them ourselves. Technology gives everyone, but women in particular, a chance to break free from stereotypes, create something completely new and, at the same time, have a good income. Many studies, including Intel’s research, show that diversity in the workplace can bring increased productivity and faster innovation.
That’s why I began to train and encourage women to join the tech revolution. As a Women Techmakers leader, I help to organize annual coding camps, tech meetups and educational programmes for Georgian young people promoting diversity in STEM.
Inequalities are deep-rooted in the economic, social and political structure. Men earn 35.7 percent more than women, and women are 12.6 percent more likely to be unemployed. One in every five working women is sexually harassed on the job.
There is a striking gap too between the level of education of women and the type of work they are doing: although more Georgian women than men are getting a university education and post-graduate degrees, almost half of women with intermediate education and more than a fourth with an advanced education level do not have paid work. These numbers show that a huge amount of social capital and intellectual potential is being lost, preventing Georgian women from fully contributing to the economic and social development of their country.
Two projects that I’ve worked on, with the support of UNDP and the European Union, were a computer game called Peace Park, and a series of virtual reality videos created by Abkhaz, Armenian and Georgian artists that explored people and landscapes affected by conflict. The aim was to enable young people on both sides to communicate.
In this way we see technology entering every single aspect of our lives. The impact of this process is incredible and right now, as we speak, a whole new era is unfolding across the world. What I want for myself and for my generation is to become creators of this new reality, to populate this space and to explore all opportunities that it brings.
I am honoured to work every day to make sure this happens, and I hope more people will join me on this adventure.
If you enjoyed this blog, watch our 8 Women series, highlighting women breaking barriers through their work.