Developing girls’ ICT skills to climb career ladder starts in the classroom

April 27, 2023
Photo: Generated by AI

It is hard to imagine a modern world without digital spaces and devices. Information and communication technologies (ICT) have become increasingly important, with many jobs and industries requiring technical skills and knowledge. At the same time, the increasing use of machines in place of human labour could result in a reduction of the total number of available jobs. Have you ever asked yourself whether this new norm perpetuates existing gender inequalities or not? According to available data, the answer is yes. 

Women are significantly underrepresented in ICT including in software engineering and computer science. This lack of representation can perpetuate gender biases in technology design and development and limit opportunities for women to shape the future of technology. The latest data from ITU reveals that there is gender gap of 12.5 percent in terms of internet usage globally. 

Moreover, women are underrepresented in leadership positions, making up only 11 percent of executives in Fortune 500 companies. Women in the ICT industry also face challenges such as the gender pay gap, lack of mentoring and networking opportunities and unconscious bias. For example, studies have shown that men are often promoted based on potential, while women are promoted based on their past achievements. Empowering girls in ICT is crucial for closing this gap and ensuring equal opportunities for all. In this blog, we would like to share key approaches to help empower girls in ICT.

Role models and mentorship

One of the most important things to empower girls in ICT is to provide them with role models and mentorship programmes. Examples of successful women careers in the ICT field might become a stimulus to choose this field, while access to female mentors who can guide girls through their educational and career journeys is a key element. Having female role models also helps to break down gender stereotypes and barriers during their professional growth.

Creating a supportive environment

Creating a gender-equitable system through new norms, teacher training and curriculum design is essential for empowering girls in ICT. Girls need to feel comfortable and confident in their abilities to succeed in ICT. I remember an interview with a girl who was successful in programming. Although she was interested in studying this discipline, at the same time she was uncomfortable going to classes where she was surrounded only by boys. Teachers and parents can create a supportive environment by encouraging girls to explore and experiment with ICT. It is important to give girls the space and time to learn and make mistakes without fear of judgment. 

Participation in ICT-related events and competitions

Participation in ICT-related events and competitions can help to empower girls in ICT. Events and competitions provide girls with the opportunity to showcase their skills and knowledge in ICT. It is also an opportunity for girls to meet and network with other girls who share their interests in ICT. Encouraging girls to participate in ICT-related events and competitions can help to boost their confidence and self-esteem and motivate them to pursue careers in the field. Teachers and educators can offer coding classes, robotics workshops and other ICT-related activities to inspire girls to explore and learn more about the field. 

Addressing gender stereotypes and bias

Addressing gender stereotypes and bias is crucial for empowering girls in ICT. Gender-based social norms mean that girls perform disproportionately more household chores than boys, leaving girls less time for education compared to boys. Girls often face stereotypes and biases that discourage them from pursuing careers in STEM fields. Teachers, parents and educators need to be aware of these biases and work to break them down. Parents can watch movies and documentaries with their daughters about successful women and discuss their journey and what barriers they have experienced. 

Providing role models and mentorships, creating a supportive environment, offering ICT education, encouraging participation in ICT-related events and competitions and addressing gender stereotypes and bias are all important steps towards gender equality and the full potential of every person.