Why is ISACA’s SheLeadsTech program needed?
Why does the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development consider the technology gender gap to be an important topic to address, and who must be involved in the solutions?
Where are we now?
Thematic focus and indicators are useful to understand the current situation. Factors such as access to education and training, Internet usage and salary comparisons provide some helpful context.
In the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) area, only 3% of graduates in ICTs are women. This percentage could be balanced by job training and, in fact, OECD calculations show that 55% of women are engaged in on-the-job training.
The worldwide proportion of seats held by women in national parliaments grew from 13.3% in 2000 to 23.4% in 2017, according to UN data. On the other hand, in the business sector, less than one-third of senior- and middle-management positions were held by women in 2015.
According to The International Telecommunication Union (ITU), 53% of the world’s population was not using the Internet at the close of 2016. Women were more affected than men: global Internet penetration for men was 51% compared to 45% for women. Regional gender gaps were significant, ranging from 23% in Africa to 2% in the Americas.
In 2016, 84% of individuals in OECD countries were using the Internet, but this usage varied across OECD countries and among social groups. In 2016, Internet usage among women in OECD countries was significant (83%), but differences remained between young (96%) and elderly women (61%). In all OECD countries except the United States, the proportion of Internet users with tertiary education was above 90% in 2016, but there were wide differences among less educated people.
We all know women often earn significantly less than men, even after individual and required skills for the job are taken into consideration. But this is different for ICT skills. According to OECD calculations, returns on ICT tasks are higher for women than for men (and this was a surprise to me). We can see positive trends if we analyze the percentage change in hourly wages for 10% increase in ICT task intensity. In fact, the difference between country percentage for female and male workers is positive or equal in a great proportion of analyzed countries.
Where do we want to be?
In 2015, the UN General Assembly adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development as the agreed framework for international development. The agenda has a stand-alone goal on gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls (goal 5). There are gender equality targets in other goals, too. The 17 goals and 169 targets went into effect in 2016 and will guide the decisions taken over the next 15 years.
One of the paragraphs expresses where we want to be, or where we must be: “Realizing gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls will make a crucial contribution to progress across all the Goals and targets. The achievement of full human potential and of sustainable development is not possible if one half of humanity continues to be denied its full human rights and opportunities. Women and girls must enjoy equal access to quality education, economic resources and political participation as well as equal opportunities with men and boys for employment, leadership and decision-making at all levels . . . The systematic mainstreaming of a gender perspective in the implementation of the Agenda is crucial.”
How do we get there?
Education, participation and the use of technology are enablers for change.
The first step will be achieved if women’s full and effective participation and equal opportunities for leadership at all levels in all area of life are ensured and reforms are undertaken to give women equal rights to economic aspects.
Education is a must to achieve participation. Education is a human right. If this right is not protected, discrimination against women and girls will not end.
ISACA's SheLeadsTech program is committed to prepare current and upcoming female leaders for the digital future through thought training and skills development programs.
Governments and members of society in general must approve and defend legislation for the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls.
The business community can strengthen recruitment, salary and promotion policies to ensure women are not treated differently just because they are women. The business community also can support programs such as ISACA’s SheLeadsTech to further the mission and help build global alliances.
Finally, as women and men, we can:
- Respect women in all situations and places, including social, business and familiar environments;
- Educate our daughters and sons in the same respectful environment; and
- Encourage female family members’ participation in ICT fields and in programs like ISACA's SheLeadsTech, taking into consideration more than getting a better salary or managerial position. The real reason is more than this. It is all about a better future for all.
Editor’s note: An ISACA SheLeadsTech webinar on The Benefits of a Diverse Workforce will take place on 15 February.