Girls in ICT is the new portal launched today by ITU(International Telecommunication Union) with the aim to help girlsbetween age 11-25 access training, jobs and career information in ICTs. The girls in ICT portal will provide resources like links to scholarships, training and internships, ICT contests and awards, tech camps, online girls’ networks and other programmes to make girls advabtaged to consider careers in ICT.
Women account to under 20% of ICT specialists ad ITU seeks to change that perception that ICT is a male industry where the girls are five times less likely to pursue a technology related career. In the 1980s the figures were different with the US graduating 37% women as opposed to the current figures of below 29%. What happened? The European Union calculates that in 10 years’ time there will be 700,000 more ICT jobs than there are professionals to fill them; globally, that shortfall is estimated to be closer to two million.
“Research consistently shows that girls tend to choose careers where they feel they can ‘make a difference’ – healthcare, education, medicine. With this new portal, we’re trying to show them that there’s much more to ICTs than writing computer code,” said Dr Hamadoun Touré, ITU Secretary-General. “As we move towards an ICT-based Knowledge Society, the rise of apps and the explosion in telemedicine, remote learning systems and research and development make the ICT industry the most exciting choice any young person can make. We are entering unchartered waters of creativity, innovation and entirely new ways of working, interacting and learning. I hope our new portal will serve as a showcase to attract the many talented girls and young women in countries worldwide to this booming sector.”
The ICT Portal in detail
The Girls in ICT Portal houses some 400 programmes, including over 100 scholarship programmes and an equal number of contests and awards, some 60 training and internship opportunities, over 100 online networks offering career support and mentoring, as well as tech camps and Girls in ICT Day activities.
It also includes a link to a Girls in ICT Toolkit, developed by ITU partner WITNET (the Global Network of Women ICT Decision Makers). Organizations wishing to add a programme to the Girls in ICT Portal simply need to log on and register.
ITU members recently voted to make ‘Women and Girls in ICT’ the theme of ITU’s upcoming World Telecommunication and Information Society Day, which will be celebrated on 16 May 2012. At its 2010 Plenipotentiary Conference, ITU also endorsed the celebration of an annual global Girls in ICT Day, which in 2012 will be held on 26 April. Governments, private industry, UN agencies and NGOs are encouraged to invite girls and university students to spend the day at their offices, or organize ‘shadowing’ programmes with female mentors, so that they gain a better understanding of the opportunities offered by the ICT sector.