Considered the largest tech event in the world, Web Summit gathered more than 70,000 technologists, entrepreneurs, start-ups, global tech brands, policymakers, academia and investors at the Altice Arena in Lisbon, Portugal on November 4-7 to discuss all things tech and digital innovation. Encouragingly, this year outdid all previous Web Summit events in terms of gender ratio, with female attendance at 46.3%, up 1.8% from 2018. In recent years, Web Summit has made a concerted effort to increase the number of women attending its events, a commitment shared by Booking.com to help create a more diverse and inclusive tech industry.
There were some amazing women who took to the stage for keynote addresses and fireside chats - women like Sue Allchurch, Chief of Outreach & Engagement at United Nations Global Compact; Paige VanZant, Fighter at UFC; Michelle Fang Chief Legal Officer at Turo; and host Dima Khatib, MD at AJ+ who talked about how we overcome the gender gap, shedding light on the importance of mentoring and role models.
For the third year, Booking.com hosted the “Women in Tech” Lounge – an interactive and engaging space on the event floor for women technologists to meet, network and exchange ideas. From coffees and pastéis de nata (traditional Portuguese custard tarts) in the morning, to networking drinks later in the day, the lounge saw a constant flow of women in tech - and men - discussing everything from their favorite keynotes to the challenges as well as opportunities that the tech sector faces in the near and distant future.
Back by popular demand, Booking.com’s mentoring program was held in the “Women in Tech” Lounge each day of the Summit. Bringing together 300 technologists with 100 mentors which included Booking.com Chairwoman Gillian Tans, other technology leaders from across the industry and Booking.com’s own internal tech workforce, each involved a one-on-one session on building leadership skills, growing their business and taking their tech career to the next level. As with prior years, a record number of women registered for the mentor program, showing the incredible drive from women technologists to support and learn from one another.
Mentoring is an area that Booking.com invests in more widely - from code-a-thons with young students and millennials that include mentoring, to our Booking Booster startup accelerator program that provides funding and mentorship to 10 thriving startups. From proprietary Booking.com research, we know that 43% of women working in tech - and female students interested in a tech career - consider having a role model or mentor essential for women to succeed in the tech industry.
Gillian also took to Web Summit’s main stage to lead a conversation on setting company values, the importance of creating an environment that allows people from all backgrounds to succeed and thrive in tech, and how Booking.com is not only championing sustainability through its sustainable tourism initiatives and support for local communities but also helping social enterprise startups develop their own sustainable travel ventures through the Booking Booster program. She also addressed a room of startups, founders and entrepreneurs on the Startup University stage on how innovating at scale is about much more than launching a global product, but about keeping pace with the fast-moving tech industry, maintaining a startup mentality even as you scale and grow, and remaining customer-first every step of the way.