Willie Bee Tingba, Jr.
Digital Rights Activist, Republic of Liberia
Much has been said about the shortage of females in the ICT spectrum. This problem does not only affect a developing country like Liberia or Africa, but it is a global problem. The disparity between male and female ICT staff in the western work environment and Liberia is another factor that continues to widen the proverbial digital divide.
In Liberia, the Government of President George M. Weah has proffered a Pro-Poor agenda that intends to better the lives of the marginalized, vulnerable and poor. Unfortunately, in Liberia, females tend to be part of the “marginalized”. Creating ICT awareness for females will help bridge the digital divide and remove females from being the “marginalized”.
After what I have said, we might need to start looking at the establishment of “Female ICT Association” in all Universities, Colleges, and High Schools. This association, when created, would amalgamate brilliant minds under one umbrella and create awareness for girls and young women to garner and embrace an understanding of the vast possibilities that ICTs offer, and to remove the existing perception that ICTs are “Male-oriented”, and provide some insights on how they can build a career in ICTs while helping to bring economic development to Liberia using ICTs.
Over the past years, I have come to realize the importance of girls and young women in the field of computer science and it’s Significant Role in the Development of a Nation. Supporting Liberian Girls and young women or women in Africa as a whole in the ICT movement would empower them, giving them the confidence to pursue ICT studies and careers. Girls and young women have the potential not only to become ICT users but also to become ICT creators. And the good news is that jobs as ICT creators often offer higher salaries and lower gender-based pay gaps than in other fields.
Henceforth, globally, on the 4th Thursday in April every year, is observed around the Globe as International Girls in ICT Day, an initiative backed by all ITU Member States in ITU Plenipotentiary Resolution 70 (Rev. Busan, 2014), aims to create a global environment that empowers and encourages girls and young women to consider careers in the growing field of ICTs, enabling both girls and technology companies to reap the benefits of greater female participation in the ICT sector.
According to ITU, Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) drive growth and innovation worldwide, infiltrating all aspects of our lives. These ongoing advances in ICTs effectively make digital literacy a prerequisite for employment and entrepreneurship opportunities and are leading to a projected shortage of at least 2 million ICT employees worldwide by 2020. Studies show that not enough young people are choosing careers in ICT – especially not enough young women in and out of Liberia and Africa as a whole. Expanding the global technology talent pool to include more women with ICT skills can help fill this gap.
This means investing in girls and young women today.
Investing in our Liberian girls and young women to pursue an education in ICT would make them aware of the vast possibilities ICTs offer, quelling misconceptions about the sector and inviting them to envision their future as ICT creators.
Also, encouraging women and girls to pursue ICT careers fosters a more dynamic the technology sector, posing extensively benefits for companies. A more gender-balanced workforce reflects the customer base more accurately enhances productivity and innovation and leads to better financial results.
Also, I have realized that one of the reasons why Liberian girls don’t choose careers in ICT is that they often lack knowledge about the various kinds of jobs ICTs offer. The establishment of the “Female ICT Association” in all high schools across Liberia would provide a great opportunity to change this by showcasing various ICT professions and widening girls’ knowledge about the field.
Invite ICT professionals and experts to local schools or other places where girls can meet and freely talk with them. Make sure to include a wide variety of professions and as many female professionals as possible. For example, in Rwanda, the involvement of girls and young women in ICT began with girls visiting several “career stations”, where they met technology professionals including a computer programmer, Computer-generated imagery (CGI) artist and a wearable electronics designer.
In conclusion, I would let you know that technology is a very powerful tool for education, Liberia being lack of access to technology is a serious threat to society that stretches the margin of the gender gap. It is equally important that girls receive a quality education to ensure appropriate learning outcomes for the good of Liberia.
Girls and women have less access to technology, leading to their educational and economic opportunities being “greatly reduced.”
We need to start developing programs and an initiative that teaches and exposes girls to computers and modern tech devices from early stages which are crucial for their development.
Let me stop here by saying that technology is here to stay, we cannot escape from it; let’s encourage girls in Liberia and Africa as a whole to find a career in it.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Willie Bee Tingba, Jr. holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Information Technology Infrastructure Management Services/ Computer Science from the United Methodist University (UMU). He is a Digital Rights Activist, Part-Time Lecturer at the BlueCrest University, Liberia and President emeritus for Liberia Information Technology Students Union (LITSU). He can be contacted on the following number and email address +231777538605 Email: email@example.com