SHARJAH, 5th December, 2017 (WAM) — The Women’s Economic Empowerment Global Summit (WEEGS 2017) brought together leaders and role models in the field of technology from around the world who shared diverse experiences that people have with and without technology in their communities.
At a panel titled ‘Women in Technology’, they advocated the need to not only create more opportunities for women in the field by fulfilling the most important precondition necessary to empower them, which is to give them access to the internet and digital platforms of learning, but also try and close the gender gap by showing the next generation just how diverse, creative and exciting the technology sector can be.
Recent research from PwC revealed that only 3 percent of female students would consider a career in technology as their first choice. The most common explanation is that many felt they didn’t have enough information about what a career in tech could involve. This is the reality of more developed societies that have the requisite infrastructure in place. What about the underdeveloped and developing nations where people, especially women, still don’t have the purchase capacity of a basic internet package? Adjusting the learning and technology uptake requirements of different societies based on their development realities and challenges was a main focus of the panel.
Highlighting the fact that major parts of the world still don’t have access to the internet or are unable to afford it, Sonia Jorge, Executive Director at Alliance for Affordable Internet and Head of the Digital Inclusion Programme at Dubai Foundation, remarked: “We work to enforce policies that will address the issue of lack of internet in many parts of the world. In Africa, for instance, only about 25 percent of the entire population has any access to the internet that is meaningful.
“Women in developing countries are actually 50 percent less likely to use the internet as compared to men. What is worse is that when they are given access to technology and come online, they are 30 to 50 percent less likely to use it in empowering and productive ways,” she added.
Luna Shamsuddoha, CEO, Dohatec, Bangladesh, said: “I have been in the field for over 25 years, and the biggest challenge is to keep up with the rapid developments in technology that almost seem to be happening overnight. I started in 1992 when the World Bank and WHO approached me when CD-ROM technology was just coming up. I didn’t know much about it but I just grabbed the opportunity as it came my way. There have been numerous challenges on the way, but my sheer passion for the unknown fuelled me and I haven’t looked back.”
Shaloo Garg, Oracle Veteran, shed light on how the family plays a crucial role in shaping a young girl’s outlook, and must be supportive of her regardless of the field she chooses to pursue a career in. She said: “I am proud to be a woman in technology, and a major part of my success is owed to my parents who brought me up as an equal to my brothers, and kept motivating me to reach for the impossible.”
Noor Al Noman, Director of Department of Sharjah E-Government, said: “In 1995 I chose technology as my academic specialisation. My father played a big role in introducing me to the field. I love being in technology, and I am fascinated by how it is driving the future. I work in the government and we use a lot of technology in the UAE, and it must be mentioned here that women are leading the field here as the heads of e-government departments in four emirates out of seven.”