Room in ICT for women
More needs to be done to encourage women and girls to pursue careers in information and communication technology, says Small Business Association president Celeste Foster.
Speaking last Thursday during a World Telecommunications Day seminar, ICT For All – Women And Girls In ICT, Foster said the underrepresentation of females in this critical sector could have implications for both the industry and the country.
“Women are missing an increasing number of technology-related job opportunities and run the risk that technological developments will not be relevant to their needs – if you don’t participate in the process, you are left out,” she said during the Barbados Chamber of Commerce & Industry event at Hilton Barbados.
Foster suggested that education was key in securing greater participation of women.
“At secondary school there is generally no difference between girls and boys with regard to competence but then something happens.
“As girls go further into secondary school they tend to give up what we call the STEM subjects [science, technology, engineering and math],” she said.
The president noted that while more women are benefiting from higher education, women in ICT are significantly fewer than men.
“Girls tend to be more influenced than boys by role models in their environment.
“Usually there is a clear lack of ICT-oriented role models in a girl’s life so their parents and teachers . . . don’t see ICT studies as career-friendly for girls,” she said.
Foster suggested that ICT needs to be better integrated into a variety of subjects so that a technical Senator Kerryann Ifill is developed in girls.
“Parents need to be better orientated towards ICT careers.
“A lot of parents really have no full knowledge except they’re in the area of what it is that ICT professionals do” she said.
Foster also highlighted how ICT contributes to solving societal challenges. (NB)