One of my colleagues from Women in Tech Global Movement invited me to join 100 Women Davos group in November 2022. I couldn’t not to ask myself a question “Is there space for women in Davos?”
I didn’t know what to expect, but I packed my suitcase and booked a flight to Switzerland for January 2023 during the WEF.
What is World Economic Forum in Davos?
World Economic Forum in Davos annual meeting gathers leaders from government, business, and civil society to address the state of the world and discuss priorities for the year ahead. It provides a platform to engage in constructive, forward-looking dialogues and help find solutions through public-private cooperation.
It is a global event where only 24% of women attended in 2020 to present and discuss the issues that matter most in today’s world. We are still waiting for the official statistics about the gender attendance for 2023. I am reflecting on my visit to side events in Davos during the WEF annual meeting and searching for an answer to my question “Is there space for women in Davos?”
What I learned in Davos?
I attended many side events, and one of them was hosted by Zoom. When I raised my hand to ask a question, their CIO at the time, Gary Sorrentino referred to me as “young girl from the back” has a question. I could see all women in the room (and few men) turning their faces to me and waiting my reaction. Due to our unconscious bias, we tend to assume that women are less senior as they are. We also give them less credits for their contributions because of our unconscious bias.
On this micro example, it was interesting and important to see how leaders of big companies, such as Zoom, have little awareness about the unconscious bias in practice. Labelling me as “young girl from the back” reflects how women are being called but also perceived both during the WEF and outside of it. This is important as it directly influences on closing the gender gap. WEF estimates that it will take about 132 years to close the gender gap.
Why it is important?
I think that we can’t just sit and wait for gender gap to close in 132. I do believe that there is space for women in Davos. This is what women can do in practice during the WEF in Davos and outside of it:
- Influence unconscious bias people have about women
- Show ourselves as role models and actively engage in discussions about gender equality, sustainability, and digital economy
- Lead by our own example and be courageous enough to have debates about unconscious biases and stereotypes
That is called leadership.