The United Nations says there is a female gender gap in the information and communication technology space- a sector that has become a key driver in an increasingly global and digital society.
In marking this year’s International Girls in ICT Day, the UN is stressing the need to promote technology career opportunities for girls and women in the world’s fastest-growing sector.
ICT experts also say training girls and young women in ICT is very important as it could play a vital role in ensuring gender equality in the country.
“I feel technology is a power or a driving force to provide equity between the male and female gender so with technology, as a lady, if you step into the world of tech, you have a level playing ground to actually thrive and be anything you want to be. It’s not about your strengths, your build or whatever it is you want, it’s about what you know or how you can deliver,” said 29-year-old Excellence Joshua, Founder of Techy Train Incubator Abuja.
According to the Nigeria Communications Commission, the country is Africa’s biggest Information and Communication technology market.
It has seen a rise in tech startups using digital technologies and innovations to provide solutions in sectors like banking, health, and education, but the sector is largely dominated by men.
The International Telecommunications Union says less than 30 percent of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics professionals are women.
Researchers say poverty and lack of access to quality education have hindered girls, especially in rural communities from participating in anything technology-related.
But some young women are beginning to show interest.
“Sometimes when you look back and see how it’s only one lady with a group of guys but now you see a lot of ladies and you don’t feel alone, you have this community of women trying to grow together and it’s really exciting,” said Grace Joshua, an ICT trainee
The UN says jobs of the future will be driven by technology and innovation.
Experts like Excellence Joshua say Nigeria’s government needs to do more sensitization campaigns in schools and incorporate more ICT subjects in learning curriculums to encourage more young girls to pursue careers in this field.
“There should be a specialised lesson or a programme that especially junior secondary school students, girls particularly are mandated to take and the lessons should be not necessarily advance tech skills like coding it should be more simplified towards building awareness in them about the different areas of tech and how they can explore it and how they can also use it to solve problems,” said Joshua.
Last year Nigeria’s communication commission held an awareness campaign on digital skills in schools across the country.
The commission says it is committed to the empowerment of young women through ICT.