Gender inequality remains profoundly established in numerous societies. Many women and girls still do not have equal opportunities despite the rule of law. Moreover, the number of women in Information and communication technologies (ICT) is extremely low. The gender disparity is today an issue for all tech companies and the imbalance is getting higher. Only a small percentage holds a degree or work in the sector (corporate jobs or entrepreneurs). And it gets even worse, there is not only a problem in attracting women into the sector, but also in retaining them. They are underrepresented in the ICT profession and even more in management positions and boards.
Yet ICT are important tools for advancing women’s empowerment, equality and a more diverse and prosperous world. Becoming technologically skilled can play a major role in being competitive in the job market and enable women to pull themselves out of need. According to the World Economic Forum, there will be 2 million ICT jobs worldwide available in 2020 for the 4th Industrial Revolution. Self-generated income from ICT businesses can give women greater power to close the gender wage gap. It is clear that if half the population is ignored, problems such as violence against women, economic dependency, and low self-esteem will continue to be perpetuated.
Here are my hypotheses:
if we make learning and work environments interesting, flexible, satisfactory and supportive (work-life balance),
if we make society realize that this is not a normal and balanced situation, and something is really going wrong when women are setting aside regarding the most important developments,
if we build confidence, talent and community among women,
if we demystify success, aspirations and social preconceptions,
if we redesigned computer science to focus more on creative problem solving and team-based projects,
if we provide leadership training,
if we create transparent career paths,
if we emphasize how computer science can benefit society and change the world as we know it,
if we meet role models that really enjoy their work…
….women will come, thrive and endure! We are not done. And if anyone tells you that you can’t do it, or it’s too hard to change things, don’t believe it. We can. Mind the ICT gap!
***Paula Fraga-Lamas is a researcher in the GTEC (Group of Electronic Technology and Communications) at the University of A Coruña (UDC), Spain. Her interests include mission critical mobile broadband networks (public safety and defense, railway, maritime sector), 4G/5G technologies, MIMO systems, signal processing, IoT and smart cities.
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