Nygaard-Andersen – Girls Who Code partnership will “support girls and women to be great”

To commemorate International Women’s Day 2021, global sports betting and online gaming operator Entain announced a wave of financial support to initiatives encouraging women to embark on careers in the technology sector.

Coinciding with the beginning of this campaign drive, Entain held a company-wide online event discussing the role of women in business and in technology. 

In the panel, newly-appointed Entain CEO, Jette Nygaard-Andersen, Entain Group Corporate Affairs Director, Grainne Hurst, and Deborah Singer, CMO of Girls Who Code, outlined what International Women’s Day and the ‘Choose to Challenge’ initiative means for them, following the announcement of an innovative partnership between the two organisations.

Additionally, the business and technology leaders highlighted the importance of greater gender equality in technology and across the business spectrum as a whole.

When asked what International Women’s Day means to her as the new CEO of Entain – the international operator behind high street bookmakers Ladbrokes and Coral – Nygaard-Anderson replied that the event ‘really captures perfectly what we’re trying to achieve as a business’.

The CEO continued: “Our purpose is to revolutionise the betting and gaming industry. This really means challenging the status quo, so challenging the way we think about customers, challenge the way we communicate in and about our industry, and always to be ahead of the curve when it comes to customer centricity, and our technology and our offerings in the entertainment sector.”

Adding on to this, Nygaard-Anderson outlined the historical and global significance of International Women’s Day, highlighting the impact women both past and present have had on business and technology.

“On a global scale, and actually when you look through history. Women have been changemakers,” she began. ”I truly believe that solving some of the biggest challenges in the world. So, poverty and climate change and finding a cure for the world’s worst diseases starts with empowering women, and it starts from a very early age.”

“I think that the most important message on a day like today where we celebrate women all over the world, is that I want everyone to remember that diversity and inclusion and equality is really your challenge too. So yes, it’s our responsibility as an employer and as a business. But most of all, it’s really a challenge that we all need to take on.”

Adding on to the Entain CEO’s statements, Deborah Singer of Girls Who Code pointed to the continued underrepresentation of women in the computing industry, highlighting the figure of only 26% globally, whilst in the UK ‘girls make up only 15% of computer science A Levels.’

Singer noted: “This is a time when the pandemic has decimated so many industries and jobs, and particularly jobs traditionally held by women. So for women to get ahead economically, or families where women are often breadwinners to have economic security. For all of us to have innovation that reflects the needs of our world. We need women in technology roles.”

Additionally, Singer gave a breakdown of Girls Who Code’s history and operations, highlighting the achievements made by the company. Having started with 20 girls in New York City, the firm now serves ‘more than 300,000 globally, across specifically the US, Canada, the UK and India.’

“We focus on groups that are historically underrepresented in technology, so 50% of the girls we serve are black, Latina, or below the poverty line, and our programmes are enormously successful.

“In just almost ten short years we now have 80,000 college aged alumni, and they are majoring in computer science and related fields like engineering at 15 times the US average.”

Girls Who Code works to spark an interest in tech ‘by connecting the dots between code and impact,’ focusing on teaching girls and young women how to use coding to work towards solving a problem in their own community. The group then follows this up by introducing them to ‘a supportive sisterhood of friends, of mentors and allies, who support them on their journey into technology’.

We have a saying at Girls Who Code that ‘you can’t be what you can’t see,’” Singer concluded: “Role models are so critical for all of us whether you’re the first female CEO of a company like Entain or a software engineer on your technical team. 

“You have the power to transform the lives of young women by modelling a career that they never thought was possible.”

Adding to Singer’s comments, Grainne Hurst further remarked that although 50% of the world’s workforce are women, only 15% work in technology. 

However, she also noted that: “At Entain, we’re smashing that target, because we have 30% of our tech colleagues that are women. But we know that there’s definitely more we can do.”

“With Jette as our new CEO,” she continued, “we have an inspirational role model as a footsie 100 CEO woman in tech, which we never had before, which we hope we can utilise to try and break down some of the barriers.”

Hurst finalised her statement by saying: “We are super excited to be partnering with Girls Who Code, who are an amazing global organisation that works with young girls, young women to encourage them to get into careers in technology through coding clubs, coding modules, and inspirational talks.”

Concluding the panel, Nygaard-Andersen commented: “One of the things that I’m most excited about with all these initiatives, is how we can, in general, support girls and women to be great. And I think that is a really important theme and it’s a heartwarming theme also.”

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