International Girls in ICT Day celebrates the importance of girls and women in the information and communications technology sector. Since 2001, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), a United Nations agency, has sponsored this event. The theme for 2022 is "access and safety", still a significant issue for many girls, women, and non-binary folks in the technology space.
Diversity in STEM
Now, more than ever, technology organizations realize the value of diversity, and are taking steps to address under-representation of different groups, including women and girls. Despite these efforts, women hold only 16% of engineering roles and 27% of computing roles in companies in the U.S.1
Numerous factors contribute to this imbalance, but the most cited explanation is the relatively low number of girls and women studying STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics). While governments, educators, and other organizations encourage girls and women to pursue STEM activities, we also need to work to make STEM education and workplaces welcoming and safe. We will know we have succeeded when girls and women are no longer seen as exceptions in these fields.
It is essential to have more girls and women engineers and developers, not just for gender equity, but to benefit from the different perspectives any under-represented group brings to the table. However, by focusing exclusively on STEM, we fail to recognize the contributions from women in ICT who bring other skills.
Technology is worthless if it doesn’t connect with people. Software is more than just writing code; hardware is more than just building a device. Whether the technology is sold or shared, someone needs to promote it, document it, package it, brand it, ship it, provide support for it, research and plan improvements to it. Marketing, graphic design, writing, sales, customer support, and user experience are just a few of the roles in ICT where women have better representation.
ICT not only needs to welcome girls, women, and non-binary folks in STEM, but also celebrate the existing contributions from those with an arts and social sciences background.
1 2019 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics cited in Resetting Tech Culture, a research report by Accenture and Girls Who Code.