By Katie Highet, Technical Advisor, mSTAR, FHI 360 and Jonathan Dolan, Digital Inclusion Team Lead, U.S. Global Development Lab, USAIDMuch has been written about the gender gap in mobile phone usage, specifically on why women are less likely to have access to this technology than men; why women are less likely to be technically literate … Continued
By Revi Sterling, Chief of Party, Global Broadband and Innovations AllianceThere would not be women on the web in Matete if not for the men.Matete is rural, in a county in Kenya that has enjoyed significant development attention. It is not very conservative, nor is it a place where women are absent from public life. Women … Continued
Sophie Romana (left) and Shelley Spencer (right) report back from the June 8 high level roundtable organized by NetHope and USAID, which brought together mobile banking and gender champions to reflect on how Digital Financial Services (“DFS”) can galvanize women’s empowerment.Women’s empowerment is often measured by their access to resources and ability to make decisions over how … Continued
By Grace Githaiga, Kenya Field Coordinator April 28, 2016, marks the annual Girls in ICT Day, which is an initiative of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU). Its goal is to raise global awareness around empowering and encouraging girls and young women to consider studies and careers in Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs). This special day is … Continued
By Revi SterlingWhile America doesn’t celebrate International Women’s Day like we do Mother’s Day, or even Women’s History Month, one scan through Facebook reveals that the rest of the world does. Policemen giving female drivers flowers and men’s chorale groups singing to women just passing by give us encouragement that women are recognized (and recognizable) on this day. However, … Continued
ICTD practitioners are afflicted with severe confirmation bias. Most of us started in this field thinking that technology was the panacea for global poverty and still hold on to that philosophy even after books and pundits and experience have demonstrated that technology is a tool, a means – not a solution…
On a global scale, women represent more than half of college graduates, yet only a small fraction of the technology sector workforce. This is particularly true in emerging economies where men overwhelmingly dominate the field. Nethope believes that increasing the number of women in ICT will deliver significant socialeconomic benefits for women, their families and entire communities around the world. At the same time, we strive to engage and empower technical women throughout NetHope’s member organizations by encouraging recruitment, retention and success of women IT professionals.
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.