The website – girlsinict.org – is designed to inspire and help young women between the ages of 11 and 25 prepare for and pursue careers in technology by providing them with useful resources such as links to scholarships, internships, ICT contests and awards, tech camps and online networks where they can interact with other women working in an industry that is largely male-dominated.
Girls in ICTalso offers information on the range of options available in the sector as well as provide real life examples of how women are already changing the industry – such as Stanimira Koleva, Managing Director of APJC Partner Business Group in Singapore with CISCO (pictured). Ms Koleva is a computer sciences and business management graduate.
“Women were the original programmers of ENIAC, the US Government’s first ever computer. But while teenage girls now use computers and the Internet at rates similar to boys, they are five times less likely to consider a technology-related career,” the UN International Telecommunication Union (ITU) said in a news release.
“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 ITU Secretary-General Hamadoun Touré.
“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,” Mr. Touré said.
“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,” he added.
ITU stressed the need for a change in attitudes towards ICT jobs, which girls usually see as unfeminine, too challenging or just plain boring. However, the demand for these jobs worldwide is steadily increasing with not enough qualified individuals to fill the gap in the job market.
The European Union, for example, calculates that in 10 years 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.
In Australia, the small number of school students studying science, maths and technology related subjects has prompted the Government to seek a report from the Chief Scientist, Professor Ian Chubb, on how to address the crisis. The report is due next month.
“We hope our new Girls in ICT portal with its profiles and videos of women in ICTs will be a major catalyst in creating exciting and rewarding new choices for women worldwide,” said Mr Touré.
“Encouraging girls into the technology industry will create a positive feedback loop, in turn creating inspiring role models for the next generation.”
The website is available in English, French, Spanish, Arabic, Chinese and Russian.