JIS News

Story Highlights

  • Support for girls and young women to be more involved in the ICT sector, is gaining traction, with Jamaica.
  • The purpose of the day is to create a global environment to empower and encourage girls and young women to consider careers in the rapidly growing field of ICT.
  • Chief Technical Director for the ICT Division in MSTEM, Wahkeen Murray noted that the sector is dominated by males.

Support for girls and young women to be more involved in the Information, Communications, Technologies (ICT) sector, is gaining traction, with Jamaica now among the growing number of countries, which observe International Girls in ICT day each year.

International Girls in ICT Day is supported by the United Nation’s International Telecommunication Union (ITU) member states, under Plenipotentiary Resolution 70 (Guadalajara, 2010). The day is observed on the fourth Thursday in April annually.

The purpose of the day is to create a global environment to empower and encourage girls and young women to consider careers in the rapidly growing field of ICT.

Chief Technical Director for the ICT Division in the Ministry of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining (MSTEM), Wahkeen Murray noted that the sector is dominated by males. She said there is the perception that girls are afraid of the sciences or find them particularly difficult.

“So there’s an emphasis being placed on girls in ICT, certainly from the ITU perspective.  The message being communicated is that ICT is not a gender specific field or industry. The aim is to encourage governments in the region and across the world to focus more on women in ICT and how they can encourage greater involvement of girls in the field of ICT,” she told JIS News.

The Spectrum Management Authority (SMA), and telecommunications company LIME, are two of the entities that have supported the day by allowing students to observe their operations.

The SMA last year hosted an open house at its corporate offices at Harbour Street in downtown Kingston, where it accommodated young women from the University of the West Indies, and the University of Technology, who were engineering majors, or considering a career in that field.

Manager, Operating Systems and Special Projects at SMA, Judith Marshall Anderson, said the students had the opportunity to meet with members of the organisation’s engineering team, and allowed them to discover more about ICT and telecommunications engineering.  This year the SMA again hosted students to observe their ICT engineering operations.

“We told them about our organisation, had a female engineer tell them about her experiences in the business, what they can expect and how to advance their careers. We then took them to one of our monitoring sites where they were exposed further to the practical side of ICT engineering,” she said.

She pointed out that students are usually appreciative of the experience and the interaction, and the Authority would therefore continue to engage them.

“What we plan to do is aim at younger girls like high schoolers, because some of the comments we’ve gotten (from the University girls) is that they weren’t exposed earlier and didn’t know there was a career in engineering in ICT. So we’re thinking it would be good to have high school students so we can open their horizons,” Mrs. Marshall Anderson told JIS News.

Meanwhile, in 2012 LIME participated in the occasion by raising awareness about the remarkable strides women and girls have been making in the ICT sector, through an outside broadcast.

Women in ICT were interviewed to showcase the level and value of their input in the ICT sector at the high end.  The recognition underscored the importance of mentoring girls about the various career opportunities available in the ICT industry, while showcasing their technical talent.

ITU member states are being encouraged to observe Girls in ICT Day annually, by organising events and engaging a wider cross-section of citizens on the importance of having more girls and young women join the ICT sector.  Member states are also urged to visit www.girlsinict.org for information on Girls in ICT Day.