It has been tough to locate women in the information technology (I.T) industry because men have long predominated the profession. It’s interesting to see how the trend is shifting and how many women are actively working in the field of information and communication technology. It’s obvious that there has been a significant increase in the number of women pursuing jobs in IT in recent years. This rise in the proportion of women working in this field is crucial because it has implications for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which include goals for gender equality, high standards in industry, education, and infrastructure, as well as bringing great ideas to the industry that may ultimately boost productivity and innovation. This implies that the sector should welcome and mentor women working in the profession and make use of their abilities and skills to get better results.
According to Wayan (2023), ongoing gender digital disparities have a significant impact on livelihoods and economic consequences. These disparities come in numerous ways, but they affect how women use the digital economy, integrate into it, become empowered by it, and gain economically from it. The author maintains that if these inequities are not addressed, they will get worse. According to him, as nations continue to digitize, the continued exclusion of women, particularly those who face intersectional barriers, will increase economic and social inequality, limit social and economic growth (Wayan, 2023).
Without a question, the government of Uganda is doing a tremendous job of digitizing its economy and empowering women in terms of technology, but women still have lower levels of information technology usage than men do, and access to technological resources is still a problem for them. Research conducted by Women of Uganda Network (WOUGNET) for the Web Foundation’s “Women’s Rights Online” report (2015) revealed the existence of a significant ICT gender gap in Kampala’s urban poor residential districts. Only 21% of the 1,013 Ugandan women and 332 Ugandan males interviewed had used the Internet in the six months before to the survey, as opposed to 61% of the men. Only 18% of women had used a computer, compared to 44% of men.
In his research, Morris (2000) explains that men and women accept and use technology in various ways. He notes that while women base their decisions more on impressions of the technology’s usability, men are more significantly influenced by this perception than women are. In the era of the digital divide, this perspective needs to be changed so that women perceive technology as a tool for promoting entrepreneurship, innovation, and creativity.
It is therefore from the above perspectives that the schools need to be considered as the first place to focus on closing the gender digital divide since they have a significant influence on students’ knowledge, abilities, and attitudes towards technology uptake and use. I feel that schools should guarantee equal access and encourage equal chances for both genders because most students have access to digital resources (computers, laptops, tablets, etc.) through them. Schools can play a part in encouraging interest in this field, especially among girls, by providing exposure to it, which is one of the key strategies for helping students fall in love with the field. Locate their areas of interest, for instance, and allow them to include IT abilities. This calls for a team effort to reduce the gender gap in technology! In my opinion, IT instructors/teachers in schools ought to begin by teaching the most fundamental concepts.
Schools should embrace technology, get girls interested in I.T.-related disciplines, and incorporate it into the educational system! We may take after educators like Stephen Dumba, the creator of the Ugandan Students IT Club. At the club’s founding, Stephen named 15-year-old Atuhaire Natasha as president. As seen at the just finished WordCamp Entebbe, where she joined an all-female panel of IT professionals that included Faith Imokol, Cerina Trillion Kasirye, Akol Sharon, and many more, Natasha’s flag in the field is rising. This makes it easier to develop mentors and role models in the IT industry for young girls. The gender digital gap in our society can be addressed with the aid of this method.
Mentorship programs should be a central part of the IT strategy for girls because they are essential for both personal and professional growth. The tech industry mentors can assist the girls in identifying their career goals and pursuing them through mentorship rather than by excluding them. The educators in the teaching profession should own the responsibility to remove any and all obstacles that prevent girls from pursuing careers in technology, including gender discrimination and unequal allocation of classwork.
It could be beneficial to introduce the girl child to successful female leaders and IT-savvy role models in the workplace. For instance, it would be crucial to add female staff members to the IT industry, such as female headteachers and deputies, librarians, nurses, culinary staff, matrons, and female security guards. These would act as role models for young girls. In our classrooms, we need to promote inclusiveness while eradicating discriminatory gender stereotypes. We have a significant role to play in bridging the gender digital divide, which should involve not only a group but also a persistent effort by IT teachers, school administrations, and all other stakeholders.
In this era of the digital divide, it is in my interest to see more young ladies empowered and recruited in the IT field and viewing technology as a tool for promoting entrepreneurship, innovation, and creativity. By doing this, we will meet the industry’s growing demand, eliminate the gender pay gap, prepare girls for careers in the digital industries, and accomplish the aforementioned Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
- Wayan V, (2023) ICT works. Close the Global gender digital divide
- Gender gap in ICT and Online gender based violence in Uganda