Technology minister wants more girls in IT

Minister of Science, Energy and Technology Fayval Williams is pushing for the participation of more girls and women in the information technology (IT) and innovation sector, noting that they have major contributions to make to the discipline.

Addressing the opening ceremony for the 2019 Girls Hackathon on Tuesday at the Chinese Benevolent Association in St Andrew, Williams underscored that 2018 research conducted by her ministry revealed that there was a “significant difference” between males and females, based on enrolment in the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) for IT.

She also stated that there was a three-to-one ratio gender disparity in favour of males that was discovered at four of the island’s tertiary institutions at the undergraduate level in information technology between the 2013 and 2018 academic years.

STAY THE COURSE

“Get involved in innovation by enrolling more in information and communications technology (ICT) disciplines, especially at the tertiary level, and stay the course after your academic pursuits,” the minister urged.

She stressed that more women were needed to promote a knowledge-based culture in Jamaica.

“In a rapidly changing era, we cannot afford to have distinctions between men and women. I believe that you, our girls and women, have tremendous knowledge that, when harnessed, can contribute to building a strong technology infrastructure for Jamaica,” she said.

The minister contended that technology is a great enabler and driver of growth, and it is essential that “we have a digitally inclusive society”, where both men and women can actively participate.

Williams told the gathering that more girls need to be excited about technology and the wider areas of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

“This must start in the home and at school,” she said, adding that there is a role for parents and educators to encourage and expose girls to the many opportunities provided by the disciplines.

The event was held to observe the global International Girls in ICT Day, which the minister said was “integral” to creating an enabling environment for innovation, and bridging the gender digital divide, while empowering and encouraging girls and young women to become content creators and developers of solutions to “real-life problems”.

Girls Hackathon is a SheLeadsIT initiative, a Caribbean non-governmental organisation, which seeks to advance and empower women, with a specific focus on bridging the gender gap in digital skills.


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