Hey, girl! You may not realize it yet… but you could be the next Mary Lou Jepsen or Lucy Peng! And if you don’t know who we are talking about, stick around a bit longer.
On April 25th the International Girls in ICT Day will be celebrated. The initiative is backed by the UN International Telecommunications Union (ITU) and aims to enhance support for a global environment that empowers and encourages girls and young women to consider careers in the growing field of ICTs.
SHEDDING SOME LIGHT ON CURRENT TRENDS
The ICT sector presents tremendous opportunities for women. It’s slated to become a very big chunk of the job market, with an estimated 90 per cent of jobs soon requiring ICT skills. But for women to seize these opportunities equally, gender stereotypes and biases that prevent them from pursuing or making it in STEM-related fields need to be broken.
However, the trends are not promising, according to a recent ITU report: the percentage of women in computing jobs has been declining since 1991, when women held 36% of these jobs. As of 2015, they held only 25% of all computing jobs and the percentage is even lower for women of colour.
Globally, the ICT sector is dominated by male employees. The recent Deloitte Access Economics: Australia’s Digital Pulse – 2018 report indicated that females make up only 28% of Australia’s ICT workforce. However, as the information age evolves and ICT continues to be a growth sector, there is an increasing demand for skilled ICT employees.
As Chuck Robbins – senior vice president at Cisco states,
“The technology industry has never been more dynamic or more exciting. Now, more than ever, we need to be doing all we can to build the diverse talent pipeline that will lead our industry into the future.”
WHY A GIRLS IN ICT DAY?
For all the reasons mentioned above, the UN has organized Girls in ICT Day. Tthe UN urges more young women to pursue careers in the fast-paced science and tech industry, generally regarded as a boys-only club. Let’s celebrate all the ways that women and girls are making waves in ICT, and beyond: from promoting women at the top of the tech game to the girls fighting for equal access to ICTs in their communities.
From Switzerland to Somalia girls are creating their own apps; they are programming the robots they build, and all because they have access to the resources to achieve their true potential . Girls and young women should be encouraged to appreciate and understand their potential for succeeding in the ICT sector. It is imperative that girls are also taught about the many diverse ICT career options that are available to them. Not to mention that encouraging women and girls in ICT can have great long term benefits including enhanced social inclusion and increasing overall economic development. This can lead to a more dynamic technology sector with extensive benefits for companies.
INSPIRING WOMEN IN ICT
Here are just 3 of our favourite female digital and computer pioneers. Click here for more inspiration!
American pioneer in optics, imaging and display hardware. Startups include 3D body-imaging company Openwater and non-profit One Laptop per Child.
Kenyan information technology expert and co-founder of Ushahidi – innovative open-source platform that crowdsources crisis information. In 2011 Rotich was named Schwab Foundation Social Entrepreneur of the Year in Africa by the World Economic Forum.
Former teacher turned business mogul and founding member of e-commerce giant Alibaba. Turned Alipay into a leading platform in China.
A couple of years ago on Girls in ICT Day, the Department of Communications and the Arts of the Australian Government shared videos from women working in the ICT sector, asking them about the challenges for females interested in IT and what message they would give to a young girl interested in pursuing a career. Get inspired here!
GET INVOLVED IN GIRLS IN ICT DAY 2019
ITU will celebrate the International Girls in ICT Day in Addis Ababa (Ethiopia) on April 25th, but many more (from government ministries to ICT companies) are joining the global effort and celebrating. The International Girls in ICT Day Events Map displays events taking place all around the world. Some of them are:
- CERN (Switzerland – April 25th)
Robotics and computing workshops for girls aged 6 to 14. How to program robots and interact with them? How are they used in modern science or at CERN? What’s inside a computer? Do computers think? CERN specialists will introduce you to computer science and robotics in a fun and interactive but expert way!
- Global Affairs Canada’s Collaboration Center (Canada – April 25th)
Driving Female Entrepreneurship and Social Impact through ICT. The event endeavours to showcase opportunities for using ICT for entrepreneurship, particularly high school students aged 14 to 16 while offering the chance for participants to meet with sector-leading businesses and civil society organisations.
- Wulwi Initiative (Nigeria – April 27th)
Empowering Girls in Digital Skills for a Better Future. Wulwi Initiative is an organization that has as its mission to empower women and communities in all spheres of their lives in order to realize their full potential to live with dignity and freedom of choice. The event will consist of 4 trainings (on digital marketing – WordPress – graphics design – PowerPoint) for 100 girls and women.
Head Image Courtesy of – ITU