International Girls in ICT Day – 2021
What is ICT?
Information Communication Technology (ICT) is a broader term for Information Technology (IT), which refers to all communication technologies such as the internet, cell phones, computers, wireless networks, software, video conferencing, middleware, social networking and any other media application, and services that allow users to retrieve, store, transmit, access and manipulate information in the digital format. It also involves media technology convergence such as telephone and computer networks.
According to UNESCO, 7 million people work in the ICT sector but only 30% are women. Not only this, only 6% of CEOs at the top 100 global technology companies are women. Women in Europe hold only 11.2% of leadership roles in the tech world. UNESCO shows that a market of up to USD 50-70 billion will open up in the ICT sector if gender equality is achieved. This means more women and girls need to be encouraged to go into ICT.
Why should girls go into ICT?
There are numerous job opportunities in the ICTs. The sector gives room for a wide range of ICT talents due to the number of job seekers possessing the required technical skills and the digital skills needed by employers. What this means is that women who are highly qualified in technical fields have a notable number of opportunities available to them.
Furthermore, ICT companies realise that workforce diversity is good for business and as such are working to attract and promote women. The ICT sector is male-dominated, particularly at senior levels. The companies and organisations are therefore working towards increasing the number of women represented in the sector because when there are more women at the top, financial performance is positively impacted.
By going into ICT and supporting the education of women and girls in ICT, the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is being supported. Particularly, SDG 5 seeks to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls through, among other domains ICTs. Jobs in the tech sector not only lift women out of poverty but creates a gender-balanced sector that provides more fulfilment at the mid and high level of their careers.
Importantly, technology is the language of the future. Therefore, a background in technology enables girls and women to have a role in developing the future. Technology is not restricted to engineers but cuts across various backgrounds from professions such as economics, health, philosophy and production which broadens its applicability.
Myths surrounding girls in ICT
The tech environment is not conducive or appealing to women:
While truly the tech sector isn’t as appealing to women as it should be, ICT is an exciting, well rewarded, respected career option and is highly lucrative. More women are needed in the sector to change the tech’s culture and image.
You can’t pursue a career in ICT without having a tech degree:
A lot of digital career options do not require a STEM degree. Many companies just generally look out for people who genuinely want to succeed, have a desire to learn, and possess transferable skills. This means that online courses or a coding club can make a whole world of difference in starting a career in ICT.
There’s no career progression so you’ll likely be stuck with writing codes:
Working in ICT doesn’t always equate to working for a tech company. Every sector incorporates technology in all aspects of business today which means there are wide roles and numerous opportunities.
You can't have a family life, social life and balance a successful tech career:
The truth is that every career requires compromise and finding a suitable work/life balance meaning that a career in ICT isn’t different. With good time management skills, positive mindset, and determination, the right balance will be created.
How to encourage girls to go into ICT
1. Girls can be encouraged to go into ICT by creating events and seminars that are specifically designed to inspire girls to pursue their dream of becoming an ICT professional and encourage careers in ICT fields. This involves a fusion of classroom learning, hands-on experience, and interactions with females in the ICT sector to assure girls of the opportunities inherent in the sector.
2. Teachers also need to take girls on a journey through the digital world from Word to Excel to coding and so on so they can know about the vastness of the sector. This will assure girls that they will not be confined. Furthermore, the use of contexts that can be found in the real world should be encouraged. This means getting girls’ hands-on things that can be replicated in real life such as creating films, creating vlogs, and so on.
3. Another way to encourage girls to go into ICT is to create school clubs in societies that are designed to encourage girls to engage actively in IT. It also allows them to develop their tech skills by partaking in challenges specifically tailored to their interests such as sports, dance, and music. This will have an impact on their confidence and self-esteem.
4. Lastly, ICT education needs to be started early. This means starting from elementary school and putting other noted factors in place to sustain interest into adulthood.
See Mansata Kurang an award winning Gambian woman in Tech
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