President of The American Chamber of Commerce of Trinidad and Tobago (AMCHAM T&T) Patricia Ghany, said gender parity and technology belonged together as the fundamental ingredients to the success of girls and women in the field of information and communications technology.
This was her message to the 1600- plus participants tuned in to yesterday’s live virtual conference held to celebrate the annual International Girls in ICT Day, an initiative of The International Telecommunication Union (ITU).
The conference was held in collaboration with Restore a Sense of I Can (RSC) and included several stakeholders in the ICT field as well as women holding their own in the world of ICT from within the Caribbean region and internationally
Among them were Guyana Minister of Public Telecommunications Catherine Hughes, Goodwood Secondary School principa, Carrington James and ITU director Doreen Bogdan-Martin.
Ghany noted it was also pleasing to her that she heads an organisation which has placed gender parity and the advancement of the technology sector at its fore.
“For us at AMCHAM T&T, we see these two issues as intersectional in our measures of support and advocacy. By this, I mean, if we are to develop our nation’s tech sector, we cannot do this without addressing the gaps that keep girls and women at a disadvantaged state,” said Ghany.
She stated as one of the fastest-growing sectors in the world, ICT has many benefits, namely creating a wide range of exciting jobs with unique skills and technical know-how for everyone.
Ghany noted, “For women in technical fields and girls who are aspiring to have ICT jobs, this increases their opportunities for employment in fields such as software development, teaching at ICT, computer engineering, space development, electronic and electrical engineering.”
She contended, however, data consistently indicated there was a disproportionately low number of female students who were given access to pursue higher education in technical fields such as math, engineering, computing, and sciences, for several reasons.
According to Ghany, there was also a body of evidence to show that the technology sector was currently, male-dominated, especially at the senior levels. Underscoring her point, she pointed to tech lords like Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Tim Cook, Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, Mark Zuckerberg, and Jack Dorsey, saying there was a notable trend.
“Won’t it be more apt to replace these names with superwomen, female pioneers in ICT such as Ada Lovelace, Marissa Mayer, Grace Harper, and Sheryl Sandberg,” Ghany asked.
She added, “This is what I meant when I said we must address the existing gaps, and why advancing the tech sector is married to advancing the opportunities for girls and women everywhere. We simply cannot achieve one and ignore the other.”
Ghany said it was why AMCHAM T&T, regarded such events like the International Girls in ICT Day as important. She believes such observances also allows for it to highlight these issues and expose the next generation of female leaders to increase opportunities.
“When we increase the educational opportunities in ICT for girls and women and develop a more gender-balanced tech sector, we are lifting women out of poverty by offering them opportunities for jobs and access to move up the career ladder quicker in their respective fields.
“We are also helping girls and women to create their own space and agency. ICT helps women to gain better status within their society and to excel professionally, according to their own choice,” Ghany reckoned.
She implored all young girls and women who participated in yesterday’s virtual conference to absorb all of what they would have been taught by the women in ICT who made presentations yesterday during the several breakout meetings held virtually throughout the day.
“This information will open many doors for you in the future. What you learn here today may inspire you to create your school’s first robotics club, or lead you to develop the next great app that everyone is talking about, or perhaps become the CEO of your own tech company that is changing the world. This is the power of ICT and this is why we need to ensure girls and women have equal access to it.”