Skills and Entrepreneurship Bridging the Technology and GENDER DIVIDE
March 2009

Skills and Entrepreneurship Bridging the Technology and GENDER DIVIDE

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Even though women hold more than 60 % of Information and Communication Technology (ICT)-related jobs in OECD countries, only 10 to 20 % are computer programmers, engineers, systems analysts or designers. The large majority of women are in secretarial, word processing or data-entry positions, requiring rather routine, low-level skills or limited technical training

With an estimated 500 million people entering the global workforce over the next decade, coming to grips with the technological challenge is crucial. Without being ‘plugged in’, millions of women and men risk being left behind. Since women represent a significant majority of these who do not have access, there is a clear gender dimension to the technological divide. Therefore the technology divide is multifold. It refers to a gap between countries that have or do not have easy access to technological advances. Within countries, the divide is between the socio-economic strata of societies that have access to technology and those that do not (particularly in rural areas). In addition, there is a gender gap across and within most countries: almost everywhere women lag behind men either in access to training or in the application of technology.

Why is there a wide gap in some parts of the world and not in others?
It is more a question of encouragement, pervasive gender roles and attitudes rather than aptitudes, according to the OECD. Girls are far less likely than boys to study engineering or computer or physical sciences. Though women earn more than half of the university degrees in the OECD countries, they receive only 30 % of degrees in science and technology. The percentage of female graduates advancing to research is even smaller, representing less than 30 % of science and technology researchers in most OECD countries and only 12 % in countries such as Japan and the Republic of Korea.

Another element to look at is the degree of access women and men around the world have to information and communication technologies.Even though women hold more than 60 % of Information and Communication Technology (ICT)-related jobs in OECD countries, only 10 to 20 per cent are computer programmers, engineers, systems analysts or designers. The large majority of women are in secretarial, word processing or data-entry positions, requiring rather routine, low-level skills or limited technical training.

Education and skills training increase the ability of women and men to apply new techniques, thus enhancing their employability as well as the productivity and competitiveness of enterprises. Effective skills development systems,

From Veil to Camera
For the 60 % of women employed Even though women hold more than 60 % of Information  and Communication Technology (ICT)-related jobs in OECD countries, only 10 to 20 % are  omputer programmers, engineers, systems analysts or designers. The large majority of  omen are in secretarial, word processing or data-entry positions, requiring rather routine, low-level  kills or limited technical training 16 March 2009 | www.digitalLearning.in  in agriculture in  South Asia, access to quality education, skills training and entrepreneurship development  tools not only represents a way out of poverty, but also provides them with opportunities of   mpowerment in the world of technology, as an ILO Online report from central India shows. As    child, Shantabai dreamt of becoming a professional photographer.  However, given that her  family was poor and illiterate, she thought this  would remain a distant dream. Born in a   arge family of marginal farmers, Shantabai only had elementary education in her village   chool before she was married off at the age of 13.  Besides working on her husband’s amily’s   mall piece of land, she had to care for her children and her husband’s  elderly parents. But one   ay the dream came true although Shantabai had to go a long  way from being a purdah,     oor farmer’s wife who is expected to cover  her face behind a veil, to becoming a   uccessful photographer. What is more, through the process, Shantabai  has become an  nspiration for many  women in Palda and the neighbouring villages.  She enrolled in several  training courses  with Srujan, a partner organisation of the ILO’s Workers Activities  programme (ACTRAV). These  training courses not only provided her  with new skills but also  motivated her  to seek new opportunities to enhance her income.  One such training course   hantabai participated in was on photography  skills and she decided to make it her profession.  Taking a small loan of INR 5,000 (about US$ 125) she managed to purchase a second-hand   amera to embark on her journey as a professional photographer.  Like her, most other  participants of the ILO/ACTRAV training courses are  ainfully employed or self-employed, sing their skills to enhance their income. So far, the programme has trained nearly 2040   eople, many of them from groups in vulnerable situations, who had not been reached  before. One of the key objectives of the programme is to empower women  in all phases of life through  skills training thus building self-confidence  and developing leadership. Financed by the   overnment of Norway, the ILO/ACTRAV Norway Workers’ Education Programme offers 32 skills and vocational training  courses, in collaboration with partner organisations in rural   istricts in south and central India. The courses  offered include desktop publishing, photography, maintenance and service  of three and four-wheel vehicles, beautician, toy   aking, among many others. The duration of the courses  ranges from 5 days to 6 months. The  tory of Shantabai reflects a  double divide in the access to quality education, training, and  echnology  between the formal and the informal economy, but also between women and men

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