Role of Women in ICT 

“The so-called digital divide is actually several gaps in one. There is a technological  divide great gaps in infrastructure. There is a content divide. A lot of web-based information is simply not relevant to the real needs of people.And nearly 70 per cent of the world’s websites are in English, at times crowding out local voices and views. There is a gender divide, with women and girls enjoying less access  to information technology than men and boys. This can be true of rich and poor countries alike”.

United Nations Secretary-General, Kofi Annan
United Nations Secretary (Former)-General, Kofi Annan
Statement to the World Summit on the Information Society,
Geneva, 10 December 2003

Despite the very substantial gains that women have made in the labor market over the past half-century,they remain substantially under represented across a range of technical and
 scientific fields. Although women make up nearly 47 percent of the labor force today, less than 20 percent of  most engineering professions are female, just 27 percent of environmental scientists, 31 percent of chemists, and 27 percent of computer and mathematical occupations are female. 1 Given the importance of these technical fields in our modern economy, and the rapid expansion of employment opportunities in technical occupations,the dearth of women in these areas is puzzling from an academic perspective. It is also troubling from a policy perspective since it suggests that the nation’s technical workforce may be failing to fully capture the creative energies that are potentially available.


Women tend to use the Internet and cell phones more for personal and social use in the six West African countries, while men use them more for professional or work-related reasons.
The major connectivity obstacles for women relate to place of access (particularly safety and security of location), time constraints, and technophobia.
Few people were aware of gender issues in ICT. The study made the following recommendations:
Universal access strategies should be implemented to enable access to ICTs for adult women in low-income and rural areas. These areas were not covered in the study because of limited ICT availability.
To reduce the gender digital divide, ICT policy should move beyond access—where the gender gap was not large—to the areas of decision making, content, and capacity building.
Young women should be encouraged to upgrade their computer skills and enroll in advanced computer training.

Gender equality and ICT

While there is recognition of the potential of ICT as a tool for the promotion of gender equality  and the empowerment of women, a “gender divide” has also been identified, reflected in the lower numbers of women accessing and using ICT compared with men. Unless this gender divide is specifically addressed, there is a risk that ICT may exacerbate existing inequalities between women and men and create new forms of inequality. If, however, the gender dimensions of ICT—in terms of access and use, capacity-building opportunities, employment and potential for empowerment—are explicitly identified  and addressed, ICT can be a powerful catalyst for political and social empowerment of women, and the promotion of gender equality.[2] In the past few years, the global community has seen the “gender issue” come onto the agenda. Despite economic and socio-cultural barriers to women’s use of Information and Communication echnology (ICT), when women are able to use them productively, they can substantially improve their lives and increase their income. They have proved useful in: health care delivery  distance education; enhancing rural productivity through access to market information and ccess to inance promoting empowerment and participation in national and international policy processes
improving service delivery by governments; improving environmental monitoring
 and response systems; and facilitating environmental activism. In general, women make up a small percentage of internet and computer users.This is changing in some countries – generally those which have greater levels of development and gender equality. ICTs are potentially an important knowledge resource for women, but a focus on access is insufficient. We need also to consider what kind of information is being accessed? Whoproduced it? Who can use it? What is it used for? In sum, we need to view women not as passive recipients of information, but active knowledge and technology developers


To orient ICT projects so that they address these areas, ICT project planning and implementation for social development and gender equality must take place in a context which consists of five main components:

Creating an enabling environment which supports and encourages strategies to promote women’s equal access to and opportunity to benefit from ICT projects, as well as creating a regulation and policy environment which supports women’s use of ICTs;
Developing content which speaks to women’s concerns and reflects their local knowledge, and which is of value for their daily lives, business enterprises, and family responsibilities;
Supporting increased representation of women and girls in scientific and technical education, and using ICTs to promote their increased participation in education at all levels;
Promoting increased employment in the IT sector for women and the use of ICTs for women’s SMEs.
Implementing e-governance strategies which are accessible to women; and promoting women’s lobbying and advocacy activities.

Women & ICT

Use of ICTs spreads we need to bring people together rather than divide them. By promoting e-Skills we will be fighting the digital divide.This is true whether we are supporting more secure, connected and convenient futures for all  women, or in opening up new career options for women who are passionate about working in the ICT sector. Information and Communication Technologies are for everyone and women have to be an equal beneficiary to the advantages offered by the technology, and the products and processes, which emerge from their use. The benefits accrued from the synergy of knowledge and ICT need not be restricted to the upper strata of the society but have to freely flow to all segments of the female population.

What does the future hold for women?

Software’s opinion about the statement “Software occupation will mainly involve women in the future”

 Software worker’s Opinion                          Men %                                 Women%                    Strongly agree                                              1.1                                       1.1                          Agree                                                            3.1                                       9.7                          Undecided                                                   10.7                                     27.5                          Disagree                                                      67.2                                     54.6                         Strongly disagree                                         17.7                                        7.1                         Total(n)                                                        787                                          269                        Source Software work & Career Survey 2004

Benefits of ICT

Teachers upload course documents so that women misses a lesson, they can download information and do the work in their own time.

Encourages women determined lessons, where students take responsibility for their learning.
Government sponsored learning tools available to women.
Government promises high-speed broadband internet access for every university, hospital and doctors’
surgery which would allow schools to be linked and to share resources.
Use of packages: word-processing, dtp, spreadsheets.
Special facilities for pupils with disabilities.
Teacher and pupil communications improve

Of the 1.3 billion people who live in absolute poverty around the globe, 70 percent are women. For these women, poverty doesn’t just mean scarcity and want. It means rights denied, opportunities curtailed and voices silenced. Consider the following:

Women work two-thirds of the world’s working hours:-

According to the United Nations Millennium Campaign to halve world poverty by the year 2015.  The overwhelming majority of the labor that sustains life – growing food, cooking, raising children, caring for the elderly, maintaining a house, hauling water – is done by women, and universally this work is accorded low status and no pay. The ceaseless cycle of labor rarely shows up in economic analyses of a society’s production and value.

Women earn only 10 percent of the world’s income:-

Where women work for money, they may be limited to a set of jobs deemed suitable for women- invariably low-pay, low-status positions.

Women own less than 1 percent of the world’s property:-

Where laws or customs prevent women from owning land or other productive assets, from getting loans or credit,  or from having the right to inheritance or to own their home, they have no assets to leverage for economic stability and cannot invest in their own or their children’s futures.

Women make up two-thirds of the estimated 876 million adults worldwide who cannot read or write:-

Girls make up 60 percent of the 77 million children not attending primary school.  Education is among the most important drivers of human development: women who are educated have fewer children than those who are denied  schooling (some studies correlate each additional year of education with a 10 percent drop in fertility)

Reference :
International Conference on Technology and Business Management March 28-30, 2011, The Role of ICT – Women Empowerment in India,Prathibha S. B.,Rajesh Rao K. Parimal Kumar K. R. Acharya Institute of Technology
M.Sekar,Head – School of Business Management,RVS College of Arts & Science ( Autonomous )Sulur, Coimbatore 641 402 
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