While in modern countries, access to the Internet is a must for most people in everyday life, in developing countries, it is the only door to some services and products, and can even make the difference between poverty and prosperity or safety and danger. It can also be the only means to join forces and report abuses or injustice. With Internet connectivity growing unequally across genders, the gap threatens to exacerbate the inequalities women already experience.
Today, on International Women’s Day at WifiAway, as a technology company, we think it may be a great day to get some insight into the gender gap in Internet usage and some initiatives that are taking place to help close the gap and that we find interesting.
The gender gap
The World Wide Web Foundation estimates that women coming from low- and middle-income countries are 50% less likely to be active online.
When it comes to mobile Internet, the GSMA Mobile Gender Gap Report 2018, estimates women are 26% less likely to have access in a worldwide basis. In Sub-Saharan Africa this number raises to 34%, and an astonishing 70% in South Asia.
When talking about Technology and gender gaps, we can’t only focus on developing countries. Women are a clear minority when it comes to participation in global tech companies. Only one quarter of U.S. computing and mathematical jobs are held by women, and we fear this issue is likely similar in many European countries.
The benefits of closing the gap
By closing the gap, not only could we battle inequality, but also benefit both developed and developing economies by bringing in new online customers and qualified sources of talent to both private and public organisations.
Access to digital financial is also found to increase the participation of women in the workforce according to a study of Kenya’s M-PESA.
Higher participation in the workforce and economical activities also means higher contributions to Innovation. WifiAway’s followers know already we are fans of Hedy Lamarr, who was not only an relevant actress, but contributed to the invention of an encryption that would then be base of Wi-fi communications.
Great things will come from our efforts to reduce the gap.
Some Interesting Initiatives
There are great initiatives helping close that gap, that we can all support. Here are some of them:
The World Wide Web Foundation mentioned above not only sheds light to inequality. They, in 2015, gave birth to the Women’s Right Online network, a place where researchers and advocates aim to empower women through the web in 14 developing countries across Africa, Asia and Latin America.
Since then, their purpose has been to guarantee rights and education, provide access to Wi-Fi Internet, push the creation of valuable contents and reach specific targets in order to trigger the entrepreneurial spirit of women with more difficult backgrounds.
Another campaign pushing for more equal online presence is the one launched by Google India: Helping Women Get Online. From tutorials on how to turn on and off a computer to how to use online chatting and emails, this campaign has been impacting positively many Indian women’s lives and helped them reach better life conditions, for themselves and their families.
Other pro-female associations are trying to make the online female footprint larger.
- The international technology school Ironhack, in collaboration with the app Wallapop, has announced second edition of its scholarship addressed to women, meant to support their studies in online programming and web design with 10 scholarships, with a total donation of 400.000€
- Karlie Kloss, a renouned model, started Kode with Klossy in 2014, a program designed to “empower girls to learn to code and become leaders in tech” by hosting girls’ coding summer camps, awarding career scholarships to young women developers and helping create a national community changing the role of girls and women in tech
- In Madrid, the Google Campus offers weekly events in which female guests that work in the technology talk about their experiences and give example by telling how they reached their current position. The events are also structured to give the ladies a homey place where it’s possible for them to network with one another and share ideas.
We hope these initiatives will help close the gap and that the information in this article will help us all be conscious of the gender gap, the importance of closing it and great initiatives trying to fight it.
Half of WifiAway’s income today through the website will be donated to the Mabea Foundation, which provides comprehensive support to women in need.