Diversity is critical in technology as it enables organizations and companies in the public and private sectors to create better and safer products that meet the needs of society as a whole.
a 2020 McKinsey report found that diversified companies perform better, have more engaged employees and retain more employees than companies that do not focus on diversity and inclusion, but women are still widely underrepresented in the world of information technology.
Statistics paint a clear picture of the challenges women face in achieving equality in this vital field, and according to the latest data from the International Telecommunication Union, only 30% of technology professionals in the world are women, and the digital gender gap continues to widen in many developing countries This creates a specific need to support digital gender equality.
Worldwide, women and girls use the Internet 12.5% less than men, and only 15% of women in the least developed countries used the Internet in 2019, compared to 86% in the developed world.
Digital dividing line
In the same developed world, the digital gender gap is also widening, with women occupying only 24% of computer jobs in the United States, the proportion of female STEM graduates reaching only 19%, and women leaving the technology industry at an average rate of 45 % higher than men, as dataport reported in a recent report.
When we come to the world’s big technology companies, the inequality is very clear; In Facebook, for example, 77% of employees are men, and only 33% are women. The case is no different in Apple, as the percentage of women working in the company is only 30%, as mentioned in the previous report.
This is despite the great pioneering role that women worldwide have played in the digital revolution, and there are women who have changed the world of technology forever, such as Ada Lovelace, the world’s first computer programmer, or Hedy Lamarr, the inventor of the “Wi-Fi” network, or Razia Perlman, herself the “mother of the Internet”. Her invention of the algorithm behind the Internet known as the Tension Tree Protocol (STP) was instrumental in enabling the Internet we know today, as Global App Testing mentioned in a report on the subject.
Bridging the digital divide
Because of this inequality, and with a desire to bridge the digital gender gap worldwide, the United Nations dedicates one day each year to celebrating “International Girls in ICT Day” during the last week of April each year. The focus is on this year’s celebration of ‘Access and Security’ as key elements to involve the next generation of girls in ICT.
According to the United Nations International Telecommunication Union (ITU), this year’s theme reflects a “shared global interest in empowering young people and girls to securely benefit from an active digital life”.
justice and equality
The United Nations agency recognizes the need to ensure that girls and women have equal access to digital and technical learning opportunities, especially in the least developed countries of the world. % of men.
Furthermore, if women do not have access to the Internet, and do not feel secure about the international network, they are unable to develop the digital skills needed to become involved in the digital world, which increases their chances of Acquiring STEM careers reduces, he explains. Telecommunication Union in a statement.
Inspire future generations
Houlin Zhao, Secretary-General of the ITU, said: “Girls in ICT Day is a call to action to inspire the next generation of young women and girls to enter the field and pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics acquired. “
Zhao called on all governments, companies and university leaders in the world to do their best to support young women and girls, saying it was necessary to “give them the opportunity to realize their dreams.”
The importance of girls’ access to the world of technology
UN Women reiterated the importance of ensuring that every girl has secure and meaningful access to digital technology.
In a statement, the agency said it was inspired by young activists; Like Anna Vestiev, 18, from the Republic of Moldova, whose work promotes gender equality in ICT, science, technology, engineering and mathematics, and another important role model is that of 20-year-old Ethiopian entrepreneur Yordanos Ginanao, who participated in the African Girls Initiative With the aim of empowering girls to enter the world of information technology, it is now developing a website to train African girls in this field.
“These young women are using their skills to inspire other girls to pursue jobs and develop basic IT skills, regardless of gender bias,” the statement said.
As a reminder, girls’ access and participation in STEM subjects is now more important than ever, especially after the Corona pandemic and the many crises it caused in various countries around the world, which created many challenges for young women and girls to learn, earn and communicate UN Women The importance of technology as a solution for access to essential services and information, and jobs and jobs.
A recent study by UN Women and the International Telecommunication Union shows that girls at a later age gain access to digital technology as boys, and that their use of this technology is often curtailed by parents.
In addition, young women and girls are excessively exposed to online violence and harassment, which can negatively affect their physical, mental, and emotional health, and affect how they access and use digital resources for the rest of their lives.
Based on the idea that “every girl has the right to be connected and safe, and to play her part in shaping a more equal technological future”; The Secretary-General of the United Nations has called for a global digital compact to enhance digital cooperation.
The Generation Equality Alliance for Technology and Innovation for Gender Equality brings together governments, technology companies, the United Nations system, civil society organizations and youth for a more equal and diverse digital transformation, including the prevention and elimination of gender-based violence online.
UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohamed has called for an end to systemic barriers; “Girls are still facing bullying, cyber threats and lack of access due to the digital divide,” she also asked – in her tweet on Twitter – that a shift in technology and innovation should be “fair, safe and accessible”.
Across the United Nations system, the various agencies of the international organization have advocated for gender equality in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.
UNESCO has called for the empowerment of young girls in the field of information and communication technology so that they can play a leading role in the workplace of the future.
The UN refugee agency has noted the importance of not forgetting digital access for refugees, and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has stressed the need to ensure better access to digital technologies for rural women and girls.
Join the digital revolution
The global celebration and global events associated with Girls in ICT Day highlight the ITU’s commitment to encouraging girls and young women everywhere to consider careers in science, technology, engineering and math.
“Around the world, girls and young women want to join the digital revolution, and when we remove barriers to access and security, women and girls can make remarkable contributions to and empower ICTs,” said Doreen Bogdan Martin, Director of the ITU. Telecommunications Development Bureau.
“Very simply, technology needs girls, and girls need technology,” she added.