In celebration of international women’s month and in line with the theme for 2023, ‘DigitALL: Innovation and technology for gender equality’, some women in technology share their views on the theme and proffer solutions to the eradication of all forms of gender biases, inequalities and the need for more women in the digital space. Associate Editor, KEMI AJUMOBI writes.
There are several ways in which digital innovation and technology can be used to promote gender equality:
Closing the Digital Gender Divide: Providing greater access to digital technologies for women will promote their full participation in economic, social, and political spheres. This includes access to basic digital tools such as smartphones, laptops, and the internet. This can be addressed through community-driven initiatives that provide support to women in technology.
Encouraging More Women to Pursue Careers in Technology: The technology industry needs more women, and one way to achieve this is by creating an inclusive environment where women can prosper. It entails breaking down barriers to entry, promoting diversity and inclusion initiatives, and offering professional development opportunities to women in technology.
Developing Gender-Inclusive Digital Products: Incorporating gender-inclusive design practices in the development of products and services will help to eliminate bias and increase access to technology for everyone. This could mean developing products that cater to the unique needs of both men and women and promoting the creation of digital products and services that are inclusive of different genders.
Involving Women in Technology Decision-Making Processes: Ensuring that women are involved in technology decision-making processes can help to promote gender equality in the digital age. This includes recruiting more women to technology leadership roles, increasing the visibility of women’s perspectives on tech policy issues, and actively engaging with diverse communities to ensure that digital innovation benefits everyone.
Overall, addressing the current gender gaps in digital innovation and technology is an essential step towards achieving gender equality.
Yemi Keri, Founder, Heckerbella
Innovation and technology have the potential to drive significant progress towards achieving gender equality. With the rise of digital tools and platforms, we are seeing new opportunities for women to gain access to education, healthcare, and employment, while also enabling them to participate in political and social decision-making.
One of the key areas where technology is having an impact on gender equality is in education. Online learning platforms and digital resources are making it easier for women to access education and training, regardless of their location or personal circumstances. This is particularly important in developing countries where traditional barriers such as poverty, social norms, and limited infrastructure can make it difficult for girls and women to access education.
Another area where technology is having an impact is in healthcare. Mobile health apps and telemedicine platforms are enabling women to access healthcare services remotely, which is especially important in areas where healthcare facilities are scarce or inaccessible. This technology is helping to reduce maternal mortality rates and improve overall health outcomes for women.
Technology is also creating new opportunities for women in the workforce. Remote work and flexible working arrangements are making it easier for women to balance their work and family responsibilities, while also providing access to new job opportunities. Additionally, digital platforms and marketplaces are enabling women entrepreneurs to reach new customers and markets, while also providing access to financing and other resources.
Despite these opportunities, it is important to note that technology alone is not enough to achieve gender equality. It is essential to ensure that women have the skills and resources to effectively use technology, and that they are not excluded from accessing technology due to factors such as affordability or social norms. Additionally, efforts must be made to address the gender biases that exist within the technology industry, and to ensure that women are represented and included in the development and design of new technologies.
In conclusion, innovation and technology have the potential to drive significant progress towards gender equality. By providing new opportunities for education, healthcare, and employment, and by empowering women to participate in key decision-making processes, we move several steps closer to achieving the world we all dream of – one of equality and equity for all.
Happy International Women’s Month!
Charlotte Essiet, Director, Corporate & Regulatory Affairs, AOS Orwell Limited
Innovations and technology have steered the world to move at an unprecedented pace and will continue to do so more rapidly. Indeed this is shaping the future, yet, women are still underrepresented in this space with about 28% presence in STEM.
It’s time to accelerate gender equity initiatives for the inclusion of women and girls in this digital age. We are challenged to explore the progress made in the past years, evaluate the impact on the society, review the lessons we have learned, and be able to chart the course going forward to drive inclusion of women and overcome the barriers that exists.
Gender equity and empowerment in the innovations and technology space should remain a priority but with more consciousness in order to drive transformative change. Women in the technology space should become a norm and not a wow factor, this is the goal. Not just in talks but actions, we need to value and embrace equity in tech by actively supporting within our ambit of influence, especially to encourage STEM for girls. In a bid to level up the female gender deficit in innovation and technology space, it is necessary to start building the interest of girls in ICT- related courses at the early stage – Catch them young.
To create an inclusive world for women, our girls need to embrace STEM. Girls are systematically tracked away from STEM throughout their education, limiting access and preparation for opportunities in these fields as adults. Gender stereotypes, discrimination, cultural biases, amongst others, are some of the issues to draw attention to and address.
It’s time to reflect on how we can be part of the solution by bridging the confidence gap, this will go a long way to create an enabling environment and achieve equity.
Therefore, there is a need to increase advocacy and awareness amongst girls with an enhanced vocational counselling for career in innovation and technology.
Harb Cynthia Ige, CEO/Director, Internet Solutions Nigeria Limited
“Innovation, technology is critical for gender equality, and it is important for us to utilise existing tools at our disposal to see how we can minimise inequality for women particularly considering the unconscious biases that are inherent in a lot of our processes, from schools and universities to organisations in the technology space.”
Wendy A. Okolo, Associate Project Manager & Aerospace Research Engineer at NASA
We need all women working in digital, innovation and tech fields to achieve social, economic, and political equality for humanity to attain a sustainable future. As a female, African, engineering professional I have seen firsthand the power of diversity.
Women in STEM fields bring new perspectives, compassion, strength, resilience, warmth, and sparkle to the workplace. They are also capable of creating safe spaces that enable more women to thrive in male dominated fields. I am confident of a better future as we unleash the power of DigitALL to ensure equal opportunities and improved working conditions for women.” Tifase stated.
Onyeche Tifase, Vice President, Grid Consulting, Siemens Energy
Technology has a pivotal role to play in achieving gender equality globally. Many corporates and governments already collect gender-specific data about key indicators of success and development, including things like pay gap, access to education, and access to credit. The problem is we often stop at collecting data and quoting statistics. One of the most meaningful activities that we can do, not just this international women’s month, but every day, is to commit to intentionally turn our data insights into innovative initiatives that advance gender equality. Whether it is an equal pay for equal work initiative in your workplace, or proactively sponsoring women in STEM as role models for future generations, it is our time to act. Used correctly, data can help us close the gap between women’s potential and their achievements.
Folake Owodunni, Co-Founder, Emergency Response Africa