Why a Girls in Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Portal?
This Portal is designed to encourage girls and young women to take up careers in the information and communication technology (ICT) sector. Students and young professionals will find practical information on scholarship programs, internships and training opportunities, online networks, Girls in ICT Day activities and other resources in the ICT Studies and Careers section of the Portal. The homepage provides links to online videos about young women and girls in the ICT sector. Users looking for white papers, trends and analysis, as well as profiles of successful women active in a full range of ICT careers will find them in the Trends, Analysis and Profiles section of the Portal. Companies, governments and organizations running programs to encourage women into the ICT sector are invited to keep this information current and expand the available resources.
Why is it important to encourage more women and girls into the ICT sector?
One of the best reasons is that there are job opportunities in the ICT sector! The sector is marked by a pressing need for a wide range of ICT talents. This means that highly qualified women in technical fields have significant opportunities available to them. The European Commission, for example, has predicted a skills gap of over a half million ICT jobs in Europe and countries like Brazil expect to run short of about 200,000 professionally trained ICT workers by 2013. The ICT sector needs new talent! This is because not enough students are preparing themselves for studies in math, engineering, computing, and sciences. Compounding this problem, the number of female technical students is disproportionately low.
ICT companies are looking to attract and promote women because achieving greater workforce diversity is good for business. The lack of young women attracted to ICT studies is reflected in ICT companies and government agencies around the world. The ICT sector is currently male dominated, especially at senior levels. Where women are present, it is often in low-level, low-skilled jobs. Fortunately, many companies are looking to increase the numbers of women in the sector. A broad range of organizations and companies have concluded that increasing women at the top positively impacts financial performance, while those that ignore diversity issues risk ongoing labour shortages. The International Telecommunication Union (ITU), as the leading United Nations agency for telecommunications and ICTs, seeks to encourage gender balance in the ICT sector at all levels of the profession.
Supporting the education of women and girls in the ICT sector is also in line with United Nations Millennium Development Goal 3 to promote gender equality and the empowerment of women. Not only are jobs in the ICT sector lifting women out of poverty, a more gender-balanced sector offers fulfilling mid and high-level careers, and enables highly talented women to springboard to the top of the career ladder. This is good for everyone. As UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has said, “Equality for women and girls is not only a basic human right it is a social and economic imperative. Where women are educated and empowered, economies are more productive and strong. Where women are fully represented, societies are more peaceful and stable."