ITU150 in April: Girls and women and innovation

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Innovating with Alja: How do we close the growing ICT gender gap?

Women are getting online later than men leading to a growing technology gender gap. Alja Isakovic shares her story about working to narrow the gender divide in the world of technology.

Living without modern-day technology is almost unthinkable for many of us. I remember the thrill of the slow and chirpy modem connecting to the World Wide Web back in the ‘90s. Suddenly, I had access to more information that I could have dreamed; I was able to chat with people around the world, learning about different cultures first-hand.

It came as a bit of a shock when I realized many years later, that it is still unusual for women to be involved in this field today.

Technology is omnipresent in today’s society; over 95 per cent of jobs now have a digital component. Though the 1995 Beijing Declaration called for the ‘full and equal participation of women’, ITU estimates that 200 million fewer women are online than men, and without immediate action, this could grow to 350 million by 2018. If women are not adequately trained, they will have reduced access to employment which could have further ramifications for their social, economic and political inclusion.

In this digitally permeated era, we can no longer afford to leave out 200 million women from the technology sphere. It is equally important to get girls excited about technology from an early age as it is to provide an enabling environment for women who find themselves lacking the technical skills to move up the career ladder or start a new career.

It would be great for the next big ICT enterprise to be founded by a female engineer; it would certainly help to inspire more girls to consider a career in ICTs. But in order to realize that future, we must ensure that girls and women receive the right support and encouragement to succeed in the field.

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