The Hedy Lamarr Chair of Women and Technology has been recognized as the best educational initiative by the Association of Telecommunications Engineers of Andalucía (AITA). During the XVIII Telecommunications Night, held on May 27, the AITA presented this distinction to its director, María del Carmen Aguayo, recognizing the important work of the Chair and all its sponsors in the promotion of STEM careers, especially among girls.
The University of Malaga (UMA) launched the Chair in January 2022 through the ‘Higher Technical School of Telecommunications Engineers’, with the aim of promoting women’s access to careers in technological fields. Since then, the Chair has brought together university researchers and professionals from collaborating companies to deliver talks, workshops and activities, both to students and teaching staff, encouraging young women to get involved in the technological field.
Ericsson is a sponsor of the Chair and has been one of the main drivers of its launch. The direct involvement of 19 volunteers from the company has made it possible to design activities and create materials around the role of women in engineering, Artificial Intelligence and 5G and their use cases. One such activity is the Hilda Ericsson competition, where 30 students (90% girls) were able to make their big ideas a reality by developing their own technological prototypes, with access to the university’s laboratories and the support of a group of mentors.
Juan Manuel Melero, Head of Network Design and Optimization, and responsible for Ericsson in Málaga, says “Women are not sufficiently represented in the professional fields of technology and engineering, but this situation is changing thanks to the effort and work of society, institutions and companies. Initiatives such as the Hedy Lamarr Chair and the Hilda Ericsson competition are of great importance, as they allow to stimulate the interest of young girls in areas of technological knowledge, so that in this way they consider a possible university education and their professional development in the fields of technology and engineering.”
María del Carmen Aguayo, Chair of Women and Technology at the University of Málaga, took the opportunity to highlight the importance of public-private collaboration in the technological and educational field: “Collaboration between universities and companies is key in today’s society. It is one of the best ways to launch projects that promote equality, break gender and geographical gaps, stimulate innovation and, in addition, are the engine of tangible results for companies and society at the local level.”
Recognition by the Government
In addition to the award by the AITA, the Chair has been recognized by the Spanish Government as a high value initiative for education and the elimination of the gender gap. This is demonstrated by the involvement of the Secretary of State for Digitization and Artificial Intelligence, Carme Artigas, who, as part of her visit to Malaga in April, participated in the diploma’s ceremony with the Chair’s students.
The Hedy Lamarr Chair will continue with its activity during the summer months with the celebration of the Campus Tech Chicas of the UMA, a series of technological camps where a technological project is addressed for several weeks with training aimed at ESO students. The Campus Tech Chicas are divided into different specialties (Computer Science, Telecommunications and Industrial) and will work within the different engineering schools of the UMA. In addition, on July 14, a talk on “Women and Engineering” will be given by Ericsson volunteers.
Education and innovation, strategic axes of Ericsson Spain
In addition to its sponsorship and collaboration with the Hedy Lamarr Chair, Ericsson promotes educational initiatives worldwide such as Connect to Learn, which aims to improve opportunities for students around the world through technology and reduce the gender gap. To date, Connect to Learn has reached more than 200,000 students from 25 countries.
Innovation is also one of the main axes of Ericsson as a company and a fundamental point in the company’s strategy in Spain. In fact, Malaga has become one of the company’s innovation references, being the location of one of three global innovation centers in Spain, situated in the Andalusian city. Here Ericsson researchers are developing solutions and key technology for the company’s current lines of business and for essential customers around the world.
The innovation center in Malaga is currently working with the latest technologies in Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Digital Twins and Cognitive Software to offer the best strategies for the design and optimization of mobile networks.