Journal article Open Access

THE DIGITAL SKILLS CRISIS: ENGENDERING TECHNOLOGY–EMPOWERING WOMEN IN CYBERSPACE

Irene Kamberidou; Nancy Pascall

This paper examines the latest research on the digital skills crisis, focusing on the factors that contribute to digital exclusion. Through an extensive analysis of current literature on the digital divide, the authors discuss digital skills gaps, namely the exclusion of a sizeable part of the workforce from the digital market economy—and women in particular. Studies indicate that exclusion from the digital market is augmented and reinforced when combining the gender dimension with other exclusionary factors such as disability, age, race and socioeconomic background. Research confirms that the gender imbalance in ICT and related sectors persists today, despite decades of equal opportunity policies, legislation and government initiatives. Women are still underrepresented and digitally excluded and efforts to attract, recruit and retain girls and women in ICT and STEM seem to be failing, reinforcing the gender gaps: participation gap, pay gap, and leadership gap, a result of the deep-rooted gender order reflected in the latest Global Gender Gap Report and Index. A growing body of research of the twenty-first shows that inspiring girls and women into technology—increasing the talent pool in ICT and STEM— requires engendering technology, eliminating gender stereotypes, and raising the profile of female role models and mentors. Studies repeatedly argue that engendering technology entails women’s agency and economic empowerment. Accordingly, the authors include recommendations from inspirational role models and mentors, three successful women in ICT, STEM and Information Society who have made a difference. All three, following a series of semi-structured interviews, propose engendering technology to increase the female talent pool in addition to engendering STEM education, that is to say, including the gender dimension.

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