International Girls in ICT Day
Every year, on the last Thursday of April we celebrate International Girls in ICT Day. This year, we commemorated this important day on April 27th, serving as a reminder of the persistent gender gap in the field. Despite efforts to encourage and empower girls and young women to consider careers in ICT, the percentage of women in the industry has remained unchanged for the past decade.
As we navigate the digital revolution of the 21st century, it is high time that women are not just included, but celebrated in the world of technology. The tech sector has historically been dominated by men, leaving women, girls and other marginalised groups, without equal opportunities and representation in the industry. However, in honor of International Girls in ICT Day, we must reflect on the current state of affairs and make strides towards gender equality in tech.
The day was established by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), as a response to the ongoing gender gap in the industry. Despite the progress that has been made, women remain vastly underrepresented in the tech sector. Shockingly, women only make up a mere 17% of ICT specialists in Europe, and occupy just 9% of executive positions in ICT companies.
Not only is this a matter of social justice, but it’s also bad for business. Research has shown that companies with more gender-diverse teams are more innovative and profitable, while companies with more women in leadership positions perform better financially. It’s simple: when we have diverse teams, we get diverse ideas and solutions.
To achieve gender equality in tech, we must work towards creating gender-responsive ecosystems. Companies and organizations need to make a conscious effort to promote gender equality and diversity in all aspects of ICT education, training, recruitment, and retention. They must identify and eliminate gender bias in the hiring process through unconscious bias training, and provide equal opportunities for parental leave and flexible work arrangements.
Educational institutions and organizations can offer mentorship and internship programs to young girls and women, encouraging them to pursue careers in tech. Additionally, they can highlight the success of female role models in the industry to inspire the next generation of women leaders in ICT.
Policymakers also have an integral role to play in the pursuit of gender equality in the tech sector. They can invest in STEM education and training programs that are accessible to all, regardless of gender. Moreover, they can create policies that support work-life balance and equal opportunities for women and men.
These are some examples of steps to create better opportunities for all genders. The FEMIN-ICT project team, recently launched a toolkit, developed to provide best practices and guidance in creating an industry that is more gender responsive. With the right tools, policies, and initiatives in place, we can create a more equitable and inclusive industry that benefits everyone. Download the toolkit.
In conclusion, the inclusion and celebration of women in the tech industry is long overdue. Through concerted efforts by companies, organizations, and policymakers, we can create gender-responsive ecosystems that will lead to more diversity, innovation, and success in the tech sector.