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What is International Girls in ICT Day all about?

Details: Written by Kate Hutchinson |

Young girls are disproportionately at risk of future underrepresentation in the ICT sector. The origins of the ICT gender divide can be linked to our formative education, when girls perceive ICT as an almost exclusive topic for boys. The solution? Making ICT skills accessible to all at any age and under any circumstance. With 90% of jobs now including at least 1 digital component, there are widening skills gaps in the IT job market that must be urgently addressed. This International Girls in ICT Day, The Skills Network is highlighting the importance of digital skills for life. Find out how The Skills Network can offer you or your organisation flexible online ICT courses and programmes that are accessible to all.

What is International Girls in ICT Day all about?

young girl sat practicing her it skills at laptop

International Girls in ICT Day is celebrated on Wednesday 24th April 2024.

The day was established by the International Telecommunication Union and is celebrated in over 171 countries worldwide.

Since 2011, over 377,000 young girls have taken part, with NGOs, governments, tech companies, UN agencies and academic institutions across the globe supporting the movement.

The day is marked to encourage young girls and women to pursue education and a potential career in STEM and particularly, the technology sector.

It is hoped that long-term investment in STEM education for young girls will help challenge gender bias and improve diversity in the tech industry.

This year’s theme for #GirlsinICTDay is ‘digital skills for life’ and here at The Skills Network, we couldn't agree more.

We believe lifelong learning can help open up opportunities and continue to develop our skill sets.

The Skills Network are proud as punch to be a leading ed-tech company that comprises of 67% women.

Among these women, we have some incredibly talented ICT role models across various departments from Web and Systems to Skills Bootcamps.

Alicia Robinson, one of our Cyber Security Skills Bootcamps Tutors agreed to offer us some valuable insight into her life as a woman in ICT.

Here is what Alicia had to say …..

Find out more about Skills Bootcamps

To find out more about Alicia and her role as a Cyber Security expert, why not follow us on our socials?

ICT is one of the three functional skills (along with Maths and English) and is therefore a crucial skill set for everybody to have.

Being ‘digitally illiterate’ or not being knowledgeable of ICT tools such as computers, software and mobile applications could negatively impact a young girl’s labour and social and cultural opportunities.

The problem is, there are many barriers and biases (as Alicia has mentioned) that get in the way of young girls and young women receiving equal opportunities in STEM fields such as ICT.

Currently, women count for just 17% of Europe’s specialist ICT workforce, with the demand for STEM professionals expected to grow by 8% by 2025.

With the ICT job market swelling so rapidly, the STEM skills gap is only widening.

From healthcare to manufacturing, the need for STEM or ICT specialists is growing in all sectors and as our workforce ages, there is an opportunity to train their replacements.

Boosting the number of women in ICT will become a major global focus over the coming years as jobs in the ICT sector call out for tertiary-educated graduates, who are predominantly female.

With only 5% of leadership positions being held by women in the ICT sector, the impact of not having better gender representation is huge. The lack of female role models in tech only reinforces the gendered assumptions of women not being suitable or even capable of a career in ICT.

But why are there so few female ICT specialists to choose from?

Why are females underrepresented in STEM fields?

4 male IT employees lined up with 1 female IT employee looking dissapointed

The reasons behind the low take-up of women in STEM are complex and lengthy, but three common factors include:

  1. The Gender Digital Divide
  1. Gender Bias in ICT education
  1. Unequal Pay

The Gender Digital Divide

Gender Bias in ICT education

  • McKinsey revealed that the primary ‘drop off’ engagement point for young girls in tech is at the end of secondary school with an 18% drop in girls engaging with STEM disciplines.
  • Gender theorist argues that boys are taught from a young age that technology can be utilised from games and applications that require skill, creativity and concentration, whereas girls are left without an equivalent educational outlet.
  • In a recent study by PWC , only 22% of students could name a famous female working in technology. Whereas two-thirds can name a famous man working in technology.
  • Over a quarter of female students from the PWC study said they’ve been put off a career in technology as it’s too male-dominated.
  • There are many interventions such as Code Coven and Girls Who Code who are both helping to challenge gender norms through accessible education.

  • Unequal Pay

  • A recent poll by Women In Tech revealed that the biggest challenge facing women in the industry is unequal pay and opportunities (43%).
  • Leading recruiter Hays suggest that women recruited into ICT are often pushed towards client facing roles on the basis that they have soft skills.
  • A PEW Research Centre study found that the median earnings of women in STEM occupations were 74% of men’s occupations in a similar role.
  • According to Forbes ,63% of the time, men were offered higher salaries than women for the same role at the same company. Women tend to undervalue their market worth, asking for less pay 66% of the time.
  • What are Skills Bootcamps?

    multiple swirling arrows pointing to a success star

    Here at The Skills Network, we have a huge range of fully funded and accessible routes to ICT functional skills training, including our incredibly popular Skills Bootcamps.

    Skills Bootcamps are free, flexible courses of up to 12 weeks for learners living in England, giving learners the opportunity to build up sector-specific skills and fast-track to an interview or progress in their current role as part of the Government’s Lifetime Skills Guarantee and Plan for Jobs, helping everyone gain skills for life.

    The £3bn Government initiative is designed to close the skills gap in the UK that has been intensified by the disruption that Coronavirus caused to job sectors and businesses.

    Through our unique national Skills Bootcamps delivery model, employers can efficiently access and interview candidates who have completed a Skills Bootcamp and are proven to have the right skill sets.

    There is no recruitment fee for this service as it is funded by the government (that's no salary percentage fee, nothing).

    Skills Bootcamps are a great way for individuals to further enhance their skills, wanting a career change and those not currently in work, to gain knowledge and experience which will be increasingly vital over the next few years.

    Learners can choose from:

    • Technical Service Desk
    • Cyber Security
    • Infrastructure Technician
    • Data Analysis

    To enrol on a Skills Bootcamps course, all you need to do is meet our eligibility criteria:

    • Aged 19+ as of August 2022
    • Employed, self-employed, recently unemployed or returning to work after a break
    • Live in England for at least 3 consecutive years
    • Have the right to work in the United Kingdom

    If you haven't got 12 weeks to spare for a Skills Bootcamp, why not take a look at our range of ICT CPD courses, which take just up to 12 hours including:

    Why should we support girls in STEM?

    2 female it employees lifting up a globe together

    Supporting young girls in STEM education and careers will help to narrow the skills gap, enhance earning potential, diversify the tech industry and ultimately prevent gender bias at the source.

    Pushing for more equitable education in STEM fields not only helps on a global scale, but it can also have a meaningful impact on individual businesses.

    A report from McKinsey recently discovered that gender-inclusive businesses not only perform better, they hire better talent and have higher retention rates than those who do not focus on gender inclusivity.

    Initiatives such as the Women in IT Summit and Awards series work throughout the year across the globe to showcase advocates and female role models in the tech industry and are sponsored by the likes of Amazon, BP, Barclays and many more.

    International Girls in ICT Day marks an opportunity for businesses and individuals to understand the importance of digital skills for life and tackle systemic gender bias in STEM disciplines throughout education and employment.

    The Skills Network is proud to champion female ICT role models like Alicia, as well as offer a wide range of funded and accessible ICT courses for everybody, regardless of gender or circumstance.

    Find out more about our wide range of ICT courses and qualifications by visiting our website