Ayumi Moore Aoki and her organization, Women in Tech, were recently featured in an article by the French media outlet, Challenges. The piece, titled “Comment Women in Tech mobilise les femmes,” highlights the significant efforts of Women in Tech in empowering women in the technology sector. The article details various initiatives aimed at increasing female participation in technology, providing mentorship opportunities, and fostering a supportive community for women to thrive in tech roles.

“Ayumi Moore Aoki founded this movement in 2018, which has spread to 54 countries. The members of this network meet every year in Paris for a summit on 6 and 7 May, attended by almost 500 participants.

Teuta Sahatqija, 61, was the first woman programmer in Kosovo. My dream is to get girls and women into tech,” she says, “and I’ve missed out on several jobs because I was a woman. The annual Women in Tech Global Meeting, being held on 6 and 7 May in Paris under the patronage of Emmanuel Macron, kicked off on Monday with a number of women involved in tech talking about their career paths and ambitions, including 26-year-old South African Ntandokazi Buthelezi, 17-year-old Avanti Sharma from Luxembourg and 52-year-old Yuki Aizawa from Malaysia. When I was a child, my dream was to be a ninja,” says Aizawa. Now it’s to fight gender inequality.

Ayumi Moore Aoki, who founded Women in Tech in 2018, also has quite an ambition. “The mission we’ve set ourselves is to impact 5 million women around the world”, she explains. Her aim is to give them access to one of the most job-intensive professional activities, and to feminise a sector that is still overwhelmingly male, perpetuating gender bias. Recalling the memory of her grandmother, who had opened a school to teach girls sewing, cooking and a few notions of economics to make them independent, she pointed out: “I’m sure that today she would teach them to code”.

“The low proportion of women in the sector, far from improving, was continuing to decline”.
Born in Brazil to an Anglo-Brazilian mother and a Japanese father, Ayumi Moore Aoki lived in South Africa for a long time. It was there that she “committed” her first feminist act: “with a few friends, I took up rowing, a sport that was forbidden to girls”, she smiles. Enrolled at Durban University in French literature and Fine Arts, she obtained her bachelor’s degree, but was looking for something else. “I wanted to see the world, so I applied to work at Club Med in Tahiti,” she says. Then she enrolled in a hotel school and did work placements “at the Crillon and the Bristol”. But it was in tech that she finally found her calling, in Paris, where she now lives.

“In 2017, I took part in the Web Summit in Portugal,” she recalls, “and I noticed that the low feminisation of the sector, far from improving, was continuing to regress.” She attributes this stagnation to the fact that “behind the isolated initiatives, there was no community”. The time it took for a return flight, and her decision was made. “When I got back from Lisbon, I registered the Women in Tech brand”. Six years later, her movement has gained momentum. In addition to the Global Summit in Paris, “Women in Tech organises events all year round,” says founder Ayumi Moore Aoki, “in the 54 chapters that have opened around the world. Starting out as an association, the initiative has become a social enterprise based on solidarity.

The movement has to be global to work

The first year, recalls the founder, “50 girls were trained to create websites”. Today, the scale is no longer the same. From the United States to Mongolia, via Brazil, South Africa and Europe, “we have already reached more than 350,000 women with mentoring, soft skills, coding and digital inclusion programmes”, says Ayumi Moore Aoki. In Nigeria alone, “1,000 women were trained in the first year”, she assures us.

“Ayumi is unstoppable”, said Chiara Corazza, one of the European speakers on Monday, along with former minister Elisabeth Moreno, now CEO of LEIA Partners (“born in Cape Verde”, she was keen to point out), and Clara Chappaz, Director of French Tech, who were debating with female leaders from Japan and Uzbekistan. For the founder of Women in Tech, “the movement has to be global to work”.

Help us break the ceilings

“Help us break the ceilings”. “Help us break the ceilings”. This is the slogan of the campaign created by the Way agency (We are young) to reinforce the impact of this latest edition of Women in Tech. The video, which will be making the rounds on social networks from Monday 13 May, shows girls going about their school activities – sport, study, music, etc. – bent double under a hard ceiling, not a glass one. I liked this video,” commented Elisabeth Moreno. Girls lose leadership at the age when they start to dream. Women are super-competent, but they lose confidence because they’re not allowed to be too much, to speak too loudly, to take up too much space in the room.” Then, addressing her audience: “When you’ve decided what to do with your life, you’ll find someone to help you do it.”

Ayumi Moore Aoki keeps her focus. “We are measuring all the actions we have taken, and we are changing hundreds of thousands of lives. The next “global” meeting of her movement will take place in November, in Azerbaijan. “We’ll be unveiling the Women in Tech Global Awards, which celebrate women’s achievements in tech every year, in Baku, during COP29”. The jury will then have to decide between 7 finalists, one from each region… “Just like Miss Universe”, she laughs. Because with her, feminism goes hand in hand with infectious good humour.

For more details, read the full article on Challenges here.