Women in ICT – Moving up the Value Chain (2)
|Read: Women in ICT - Moving up the Value Chain - 1|
Sweat, Stress or Value The reality is that most women working in ICT and ICT enabled organizations contribute but not in the creative, “high tech” areas. Women in ICT tend to predominate in non-technical areas such as customer service, business development, marketing, etc.
And in the technical areas they are also the majority working in the routine, “low-tech” jobs – working as telephone, data entry and desk top publishing operators.
The International labor organization (ILO) World Employment report states, “Women are concentrated in end-user, lower-skilled ICT jobs related to word-processing and data entry and men in more senior managerial, administration and design of networks.”
Women in ICT are contributing. But the reality is that the majority of women working in ICT are not involved in the creative and growth areas of ICT. The work many women ICT do in ICT may be stressful and sweaty, resulting in physical and mental burnout. But how critical is such work? And growth is important – typically what are the prospects? For growth? How challenging are such opportunities? There are also much fewer women compared to men in the areas of control and decision-making in ICT. In this situation can we truly say most women in ICT are fulfilling their potential?
ICT - helping or hurting Women?
The ICT industry, the heartbeat of the information society, booms but is the current state of affairs helping or hurting women? There are women in ICT, but fringe play isn’t helping. No matter how busy, the “heavy-load-donkey-work-monkey syndrome” is not empowerment but slavery. This growing unevenness in the ICT sector, rather than empowering women, means ICT is inadvertently widening the divide and creating new inequalities. The potential of ICT to eliminate the gender gap is being significantly compromised. And we had better take this serious – women constitute a major segment of the populace. There can be no real knowledge economy if women aren’t active participants in the story.
We have seen the facts on the ground. What is the “WHY”? What are the factors that restrict women's full participation in the ICT sector? There are many angles to be considered. For one thing, fewer women are getting to the top in the ICT profession because of the small numbers of women are entering the ICT profession. And the numbers entering the ICT profession because fewer women are investing in ICT education. You can’t become an ICT professional without acquiring the required skills and knowledge. Formal or informal ICT education – women are just not investing in significant numbers.
From schools (primary and secondary) to polytechnics, universities and other higher institutions, the story is the same in Science and Technology (S&T) education. The same trend is reflected in the private ICT training sector. Very few women invest in professional computer education courses and training, or attend public ICT events. In this regard, Jidaw Systems Ltd (http://www.jidaw.com), Nigerian training and certification provider, conducted surveys over a six-month period, in year 2006. Some surveys found the percentage of women attending the FREE IT Career Empowerment Seminar (http://www.jidaw.com/netseminar.html) during this period to be less than 5%. Other surveys conducted during the same period showed the percentage of women that enrolled for IT Training and certification courses was less than 6%.
What is the “WHY”?
Why are so few women working in the ICT sector? Why are so many women put-off from getting into ICT? Despite rapid growth of ICT jobs over the past few years, less than 20% of women account for ICT roles and represent less than 5% of the total female employed population.
Again “WHY”? Stereotypes and societal expectations constitute major roadblocks. “ICT is a male profession” “Women better suited for professions like marketing, banking and accounting” 'female', more acceptable?" “Computer networking isn’t for ladies” “Which computer courses are okay for women?” Does the ICT industry have the "right image" for attracting women to work in the industry? Or are other professions seen as being more 'female', more acceptable?"
I’m always bemused when I receive enquiries asking if a certain ICT course would be suitable for women, or when I hear comments about “ICT professions or areas for women”. ICT has no gender restrictions! Let us smash these stereotypes once and for all. There are no female or male professions of ICT. Wake up! ICT is neither male nor female! Setting up computer networks, diagnosing and troubleshooting PCs is about what you deliver. It has nothing to do with whether you are male or female. There are great female software programmers just as there are great male software programmers.
The question is: does the environment encourage women to study and work in the ICT industry? Unfortunately, stereotyping is introduced early –from schools and homes at an early age. The ILO World Employment report mentioned earlier states “Girls lag in educational attainment in most countries and, even in wealthy ones, their enrolment in the core courses of the technologies is a small share of boys' enrolment”.Counseling that strengthens such negative prejudice is often informal, but very effective. From the time children can make choices, an extremely low proportion of girls enroll for S&T courses compared to boys. At home, girls are more likely to be involved in domestic chores, rather than science and technology developments. The environment encourages, enforces and reinforces such stereotyping. In the words of Nigeria’s Former Minister of Women Affairs, Hajia Inna Maryam Ciroma, “Despite the centrality of women in the realization of the MDGs, programmes and policies attributable to patriarchy, deep rooted traditional beliefs and customs, et cetera, had contributed immensely to the perpetuation of gender inequality."
Previous on Women in ICT - Moving up the Value Chain - 1
Continued on Women in ICT - Moving up the Value Chain - 3
Jide Awe is the Publisher of Jidaw.com
What Do you Have to Say? Post Your Comments about this article Here:
COMMENTS for "Women in ICT – Moving up the Value Chain":
Original content provided by careeraware.com. Copyright © 1989-2011 careeraware.com. All rights reserved.
|Home||About us||Contact||Jobs Nigeria||Content, News & Events||Disclaimer||Privacy||Sitemap|