The annual ICT4D Conferences have proven to be an invaluable opportunity for NGOs, private sector organizations, universities, governmental agencies and foundations to share their experience in using ICT to increase the impact of development programs and to learn from each other. In 2016, 750 individuals from 76 countries and 320 private sector and public sector and civil society explored the ways to harness the full power of digital solutions to achieve the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. Our thanks to Accenture, Catholic Relief Services, Esri, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, iMerit Technology Services, Inmarsat, IS Solutions, Making All Voices Count, Mercy Corps, Microsoft, NetHope, Oxfam, Pandexio, Qualcom Wireless Reach, RTI International, SimbaNet and World Vision for making that possible.
The "problem" of girls and ICT is perceived in different ways. For some, image is the key, with breaking down myths and stereotypes viewed as all important. Others see the "problem" as being institutionally based, with schools and teachers misinterpreting male and female capabilities, transmitting negative messages about gender and technology, demonstrating a lack of interest in ICT or, in the affluence / poverty dichotomy, promoting one type of computer learning and practice over all others. Yet again, it can be gender scripts built into computer hard/software that are to blame.
Industry-led initiatives such demonstrate an ability to penetrate widely, if not deeply; address concerns in the literature around making ICT audience-relevant and person rather than technology- centered; and are, it seems, flexible enough to allow transferability and modification.
The primary audience for this session includes three groups: ICTD (to use the broader concept) academics and development professionals. The former will benefit from a timely review of the field from an influential organization that has helped shape practical ICTD programs and measure their outcomes over more than a decade. Such a perspective permits reflection on past efforts and recognition of open problems, suggesting opportunities for further research. The latter would benefit from the best practices, methods, tools, and techniques used to implement, monitor, and measure projects and their outputs. Thirdly, relevant group would come from those who participate in the formal and informal institutions and regulatory bodies involved with developing and enacting ICT and Girls policies.
Although the session is targeted at a research-focused audience, the level and pitch of the dialogue is such that any person at the regulatory, policy, or administrative level can relate to and gain insightful information from.
This session is hoped to provide a snapshot of strategies to improve female participation in ICT and careers suggests a need for approaches, which are both impactful and sustainable. It highlighting both the potential and the drawbacks of various measures, this session will also suggest valuable lessons that may be drawn from both sides of that equation. In designing successful intervention strategies, it is crucial to be aware of issues such as in-built gender scripts in computer hard/software; the kind of messages being transmitted in heterogeneous classrooms; the need for teacher education in gender and diversity issues; the ways in which ICT infrastructure is being employed and the learning / skills development that produces; the desirability of spreading the load where staffing is concerned; the need to make ICT studies real-world relevant; and the requirement for ICT studies to be person rather than technology centered.