Panoply Digital is very excited to announce the launch of the Women’s Pathways to the Digital Sector: Stories of Opportunities and Challenges report. Commissioned by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) within the framework of the G20 initiative #eSkills4Girls. The study was prepared by Panoply Digital in collaboration with Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH with input from numerous members of the G20 Development Working Group (DWG) as well as the ITU, OECD, UNESCO and UN Women.
Building on the existing data and information from leading experts including the GSMA, the ITU, the World Bank, and the Alliance for Affordable Internet, Panoply Digital collected real-life stories from 22 girls and women who had navigated various obstacles to carve out a career for themselves in the digital sector. The girls and women we spoke to came from around the globe, and whilst each shared a unique story, they also supported current findings which highlight the additional challenges faced by them along their pathway into the digital sector.
Some of the 10 key findings in the report were as follows:
· Inclusive education system
In general, digital literacy skills or even more advanced skills such as coding still find little representation in the education systems. Even when this requirement is fulfilled, education systems do not always provide inclusive opportunities for girls to participate in STEM subjects.
· Non-formal education
There are too few opportunities that target girls outside formal education. This contributes to girls being left out and not being exposed to technology until they are older, at which point it is usually too late to get them to reconsider ICT as a career.
The overall lack of support for girls’ and women’s engagement with ICT in every life stage can have a negative impact on their ability to develop the self-confidence needed to access and use ICT. Yet exposure to technology as young girls can bolster their curiosity about the wider digital sector.
· Working environment
If a woman begins a career in the digital sector, cultural stereotypes often remain pervasive. Additionally, workplace policies and practices that harm their progression and ability to break through the “glass ceiling”, including being terminated for becoming pregnant, or being excluded from projects with a technical focus, can contribute to their decision to leave digital sector jobs earlier than their male counterparts.
· Lack of sex-disaggregated data and gender statistics
There is a need to initiate and increase the frequency of measurements for the gender digital divide in terms of access to and use of ICT. In doing so, evidence-based policy recommendations can be developed to help bridge the divide.
In addition to the 10 key findings identified in the report, Panoply Digital observed some further key trends from the women we spoke to that were also worth highlighting:
· For many women, their childhood career ambitions were born from the only narrative that was available to them.
· A passion for social impact or wanting to help their community was often the driver for ending up in a career in technology.
· The majority of women did not follow a linear career path from childhood dreams, to what they studied and their eventual career in tech.
· A financially and emotionally supportive family was cited as one of the key reasons for the women’s ability to enter into the field of technology.
· Most women had guidance from prominent figures and mentors in their lives; those who didn’t recognised them as an important aspect for aspiring young women.
· Most women did not view technology itself as a barrier, but the conditions around girls’ access to it is.
· The women were not afraid to try new things or step outside their comfort zone. Hard work was a key element to their success.
Panoply Digital would like to sincerely thank the women who gave up their time to share their personal stories and breathing life into much of the data which shows the challenges faced by girls and women today.
For the full report, please see the BMZ webpage: Harnessing digitalisation as an opportunity for women and girls and find out more about how Germany is taking a leading role in promoting girls and women in the digital sector.