In the United States, the percentage of women in IT roles is less than 17%, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. Apply that to the developing world, and the numbers become staggering – in the wrong direction.
Several factors contribute to this imbalance. Access to practical technical training is limited for young women and girls; when a family can only spend so much on education, culture may push parents to support sons first. Cultural dynamics that influence family decisions may also be present in the workplace, favoring men over women for technical jobs. If local IT departments have never hired a woman before, they may be reticent to do so now. So with a lack of in-country female IT professionals, there are limited recruits and few role models to inspire young women to pursue a career in technology. The small percentage of women who’ve managed to enter the field find themselves isolated, struggling to balance work with life and seeking a sense of community among like-minded professionals.
At NetHope, we cannot change cultural norms hindering women from entering and succeeding in IT in the developing world. Nor would we want to. But we can change the level of gender-based training, access to opportunity and professional support these women have – locally and globally.