There are not enough women in ICT careers – Sophia Bekele #GirlsinICTDay

By Sophia Bekele

Every young girl & woman ought to have the tools to take control of her life. Today, it’s almost uniquely ICT skills that offer growing employment, innovation, and opportunity with the large digital gender divide. However, getting more girls to join the ICT field seems a no-brainer to plug that gap.

The problem isn’t getting women to use ICT.  They use it all the time; intensely and creatively particularly on social media, often more than men do.   Women do employ their already acquired ICT skills towards the development of the society. The problem is, there are not enough women in ICT careers.

More women and girls have added to the statistics now, more so than a decade ago. They account for more than half of the continent’s population. However, they are still less than one in three working in the sector; and disproportionately in lower status jobs. Youth on the other hand make up more than two-thirds of Africa’s population.

There are many passionate, grassroots initiatives out there like our Miss.Africa Program, a Women in Tech Initiative that assists the involvement of young girls and women in the ICT sector in Africa by enhancing their coding skills as well as offering training  in ICT which has had a lot of success with the its past projects.  Such initiatives are where we could shine our light and start perceiving women and girls as a talented cohort in the ICT sector.

Our yearly competition program this year will see the Miss.Africa program announce the winners of the 2016/17 Seed Fund. This round received more than 200 applications from all over Africa and we are excited that more women and girls STEM programs are gaining ground in Africa.

In 2014, I was asked to address the ITU’s annual Girl’s ICT day in Addis Ababa Ethiopia. Part of my key note message to women which is still relevant today said “…An entry point for girls also is the use your own smart devices, like your mobile phones and applications built on it.  Being an expert user is a starting point for Girls and women, less being a developer of apps. Second is the active use of social media tools and ways to use them to create value for yourself or the organizations you work for, for purposes of branding, marketing and global communications.  The ICT sector clearly underpins this and many other developments in the future…Getting educated in ICT is no longer nerdy, it is trendy.”  (Read the coverage of ITU Girl’s ICT day of 24th April 2014 keynote here).

On this special day in 2017, Miss.Africa joins hands with the ITU in Celebration of the Girls in ICT Day and wishes all girls and women success in their  individual and joint endeavours. 
Happy Girls ICT Day on behalf  of Miss.Africa
(Sophia Bekele is the Founder of Miss.Africa and Executive Director of DCA Trust).