Women gain space within the LACNIC community
She decided to run for the LACNIC Electoral Commission as a challenge and to increase her active participation within the community and won the support of the majority of voters. Thus, Vivian Valverde, a Costa Rican engineer with 16 years of experience in the world of ICT, was elected to a position on the LACNIC Electoral Commission, where she will serve until 2020.
An active part of the regional Internet community and LACNIC event attendee for ten years, Valverde is convinced that the Internet is open to anyone wishing to learn, share and contribute their knowledge, regardless of their gender.
She encourages other women to follow her and become more involved in the daily work of the community and especially of LACNIC.
From your perspective, have you noticed greater involvement of Latin American women in the world of the Internet?
I have indeed. Statistics show this is possible – the Internet ecosystem has no limitations in terms of gender or race, the Internet is for everyone, it is the people who have allowed some to believed there are differences between men and women. The Internet is a tool that enables growth and development when we take advantage of all the benefits it has to offer in a positive way. This change can be seen in all technical fields, Internet-related legal fields, civil society representatives and end users.
Why do you think that until now women’s participation in the ICT sector has been much lower than that of men? Is it a male-dominated field?
In the past, female participation was lower not only in the field of computer sciences but also in all others, including all branches of engineering as this type of professions were ‘stereotyped’ as being exclusively for men, something I believe to be incorrect. Women are interested in this type of work and have the necessary capabilities, so there is no reason to limit their participation. While at the university pursuing my degree in Systems Engineering, I remember how I was sometimes the only woman in the class and often one of just a few female students, a situation that continues to this day and extends to the working environment. Far from discouraging me, this drove me to always give my best.
Information and Communication Technologies are for anyone wishing to learn, share and contribute their knowledge, regardless of their gender.
In your opinion, what can be done to encourage more Latin American and Caribbean women to become involved in the various Internet issues? Do you think that the IT Women list is a good initiative? What other actions would you suggest?
We, the women who are already part of ICT, have the responsibility to encourage female participation by sharing our own experiences, serving as an example and motivating other women who wish to become involved so that they will realize it is indeed possible. The IT Women list allows for greater interaction among the women that are part of the community by promoting their participation in the various events. On the other hand, it is also necessary to provide continuity, for example, through online meetings that will allow many women who may not have the chance to attend in-person events to share and contribute and many others to learn more about them and the projects of which they are part.
What can the digital world bring to gender equality?
Gender inclusion isn’t the greatest contribution; instead, it is the elimination of all the stereotypes that create boundaries or differences among us. We all have the right to access technology in all its forms.
How long have you been involved with LACNIC?
The first LACNIC event I attended was the one held at Isla Margarita, Venezuela in 2007 (LACNIC X). However, I had been working on IP addressing related tasks at my company since 2004, and this had allowed me to get to know LACNIC and follow its evolution over time.
What has been your role during this time?
In 2011 I was appointed my company’s membership contact and from then on I had greater interaction and participated in the events, as I was responsible for managing and monitoring IPv4 and IPv6 address assignments and therefore needed to keep up to date with the latest policies and best practices in order to continue to carry out this work successfully.
Why did you decide to run for LACNIC’s Electoral Commission? Did you feel supported in your decision by the men and women around you?
I decided to run as a challenge and to increase my active participation as part of the community and as a woman, taking into account that over several years I had already been actively participating and voting at Member Assemblies and this position would be directly related to this process of which I am part and understand. I received great support from all the people with whom I have shared throughout these years and this served to encouraged me even more.
Do you think other women could play prominent roles in LACNIC commissions and working groups?
Of course! I encourage them to become involved, as I am sure and trust that many of my colleagues have the desire and knowledge needed to be part of the different LACNIC groups.
In my opinion, greater participation of women in LACNIC’s day-to-day activities is very important, given that women are also part of this community and that we have many professionals who are willing to contribute to the organization.