By Asma Aziz
For over 40 years Intel has been creating technologies that advance the way people live, work, and learn.In that time, technology has consistently transformed the lives of billions of people. It functions as a gateway to ideas, resources and opportunities that couldn’t have been realized before. Unfortunately however, Intel research suggests that as technology plays a growing role in our everyday lives, girls and women are being left behind, with nearly 25 per cent fewer women than men having access to the internet. In some regions, this figure can rise to 45 per cent, such as in Sub-Saharan Africa.
With this understanding, Intel is committed to providing women with opportunities enabling them to achieve their individual potential and drive change. For instance, earlier this year we announced plans to invest $300 million to help build a pipeline of female and under-represented engineers and computer scientists at Intel. Alongside this Intel also launched the Diversity in Technology initiative, which is our goal to achieve a full representation of women at Intel by 2020.
We believe that when it comes to technology, closing the gender gap has tremendous potential to empower women and enrich their lives as well as all the lives they touch.
For example, adding 150 million more women and girls online, beyond the 450 million who are projected to get internet accesswill:
- Empower 600 million women to enhance their knowledge, skills, and rights
- Increase productivity and economic opportunities for women, expanding horizons for households totaling almost three billion people worldwide
- Improve health, lower infertility, and reduce infant mortality
- Open a market opportunity of USD 50-70 billion
When it comes to gender equality, especially in developing countries, the societaland economic benefits are tremendous. As such, what is needed is a conscious, concerted action focused on improving gender equality.
To help achieve this, in 2013 Intel introduced its ‘She Will Connect’ program, which aims to expand the digital literacy skills to young women in developing countries. Using a combination of digital literacy training, an online peer network and gender-relevant content, the initiative – launched in sub-Saharan Africa where the internet gender gap is the greatest– is helpingyoung women acquire and improve their digital literacy skills. Intel was honored to recently be recognized by Global Connections for Women Foundation for its continuing commitment and progress made in girls’ and women’s empowerment and gender equality.
We’ve experienced first-hand the positive impact women have in ICT, and are focused on driving gender equality in the region. Organizations focused on gender equality can help accelerate our journey to this future by following four simple steps:
Understand Gender Gaps and Barriers – Assessing how gender impacts education and ICT, and any societal drivers behind the inequality, policy makers have a strong insight which can be used to develop a gender equality vision to drive change. For instance, faced with alarming gender gaps in education, the Government of Papua New Guinea developed a Gender Equity in Education Policy, which states, “Schools have a role and a responsibility to contribute to the achievement of equality between males and females and in improving conditions of life for girls and women.”
Design Goals and Align with Key Stakeholders – Working with industry bodies who can support local initiatives, organizations must define final and intermediate goals to overcome barriers to female education and participation in ICT, along with relevant actions, programs, or initiatives to achieve these goals. Specific goals and actions tailored for girls ensure their ongoing participation and success in education programs are often needed to achieve significant progress.
Bangladesh is an example where explicit attention to gender equality helped to attain dramatic gains in primary school participation and achieve gender parity. The creation of a “child-friendly” school environment, focusing more on girls was a key objective, and “enabled girls to achieve the same levels of enrolment, completion and achievement as boys.”
Strengthen Actions By Living Your Vision– Ensure both females and males are adequately and fairly represented across your business. Furthermore, the best-laid plans have little meaning unless they have the people and financial resources to carry them out. Identify dedicated staff—and funding sources for the gender strategies and actions you develop.
Measure Results – Collecting relevant data is not enough. Efforts must be made to review and assess them by specialists in the field. Ensure program mid-term and final evaluations include an assessment of progress on gender equality, along with specialized staff to carry them out.
Education and access to technology is a fundamental right for all, and we hope by following a few simple steps, such as implementing initiatives like Intel’s Diversity in Technology or better understanding the societal impact of gender, we can open these doors of opportunity to everyone across the globe. After all, educating girls and closing the internet gender gap also has an important multiplier effect—expanding opportunities for families, communities, and nations.
About Intel’s Education Commitment
Today, millions of girls around the world have little or no access to education. Intel believes that education should be a fundamental right for everyone and recognizes the major role technology plays in improving both the quality of and access to education. Through access to technology, scholarships and community learning programs, Intel provides girls and women with opportunities for quality education and personal growth.
In this increasingly global economy,Intel recognizes that curiosity, critical thinking and a strong foundation in maths and science are necessary for tomorrow’s workforce to compete for the high-tech jobs of the 21st century. Over the past decade alone, Intel and the Intel Foundation have invested more than $1 billion, and Intel employees have donated close to 3 million volunteer hours toward improving education in more than 60 countries.