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How hard is it to achieve gender parity in ICT?

About a year ago, right in time for the celebration of the International Women’s Day 2016, a question began to take shape in my mind. I began wondering about the state of gender parity in the world, and the fact that we have yet to achieve it in so many aspects of our societies. I mean, how hard can it be?
International Women’s Day

As a woman working within ICT, my first thought is always how hard can it be? Apparently, though, the pace of progress towards gender parity in the world is not always a straightforward one, as the World Economic Forum (WEF) shows us in their Global Gender Gap Report. In fact, the GSMA released Bridging the Digital Gap: Mobile access and usage in low- and middle-income countries, which showed an even more grim picture for the digital gender gap: not only do women lag behind in accessing the internet, they are the group that either lacks or shares access to devices such as mobile phones. And here I thought that within my own industry, things would look better than this... Nevertheless, it is my belief that we need to understand how the digital gender gap manifests itself, to make an impact that diminishes that gap, sooner than later.

In our quest to understand the existing digital gender gap, I teamed up with two of my brilliant colleagues to take a deep-dive into our Analytical Platform. We analyzed the online presence of men and women in 32 countries, looking at their usage of various ICT tools and services. We created an index where countries were scored depending on the female/male ratio of various digital activities. We also explored the impact of age, occupation and income on the gender gap.

You can see an infographic with some of our key learnings here.

Taking it one step further, we explored which personal values were strong among men and women, again depending on age, occupation and income. For some of these countries, we could track the state of the digital gender gap since the year 2000! Needless to say, all this data made us as incredibly excited as children in a candy store!

During our number-crunching festivities, we realized two crucial things: The first is that most of the people we surveyed are already online, which is important to keep in mind because in some developing countries these consumers may be only a small part of the total population. The second thing has to do with what the index is not telling us; it is not telling us much about the society at large, why the ICT index score for a country looks the way it does. Nor does it say anything about the gender gaps that exist in other aspects of the society.

So, how should we best understand our results?

We reverted to the WEF and began mapping the 32 countries we had selected in our own study. Mapping these two indexes against each other, we began observing patterns among the countries, a contextual description, if you will. We began by putting together the pieces of a broader puzzle we call The Role of ICT in Reaching Gender Parity.

We have not crossed the finish line yet, because there is still much to say about this topic, so to answer the question of how hard it is to achieve gender parity in ICT I will say more is to come, we can assure you. But perhaps what we have put together so far can inspire you to think of what ICT really can achieve, in our joint effort to achieve gender parity in the world.

Wouldn’t that be an amazing reality to live in?

Check out the infographic here and read more on Ericsson ConsumerLab about our work on gender parity.


Today's post was written by Zeynep Ahmet, Senior Advisor Consumer Insights at Ericsson.

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