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Using technology to empower girls: Ada Lovelace Day and International Day of the Girl

Girls in ICT Day 2017  © ITU/ V. Arce

Today we celebrate Ada Lovelace Day, the international day to recognize the achievements of women in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

“We need to encourage more girls to study STEM and support women in STEM careers, not least because we’re seeing a major skills shortage in several STEM industries, particularly engineering and computer programming where women are badly underrepresented. For these industries to flourish, they need to tap into the entire talent pool, and that means hiring more women,” says Suw Charman Anderson, founder of Ada Lovelace Day, in a comment to ITU News.

Ada Lovelace Day has launched an online career fair for women in the UK to promote the opportunities available for women in technical fields. That’s just one way they are using tech for women’s empowerment.

Charman Anderson argues that “… diverse teams make better decisions and create better products, and diverse companies are more profitable. So it makes solid business sense to hire diverse talent.”

“On a more personal note, I think we have a duty to support girls whose ambitions and dreams lie in STEM, because no one’s chances of happiness and success should be shattered because of stereotypes. STEM careers can be very satisfying, and it would be great to see more girls and women enjoying them,” said Charman Anderson.

Increasingly in the 21st century, we are seeing more and more examples of how technology is empowering women, which is why ITU is putting a focus on innovation and technology as key to improving gender equality and women’s empowerment worldwide.

Girls in ICT Day 2016, International Girls in ICT Day 2016 @ ITU HQ, © ITU/R. Farrell

At ITU, we are passionate advocates for the involvement of girls in STEM, and have numerous initiatives such as EQUALS and International Girls in ICT Day to help bridge the digital gender gap.

Call to action to close the Internet gender gap

The ITU Council Working Group on International Internet-related Public Policy Issues (CWG-Internet) is holding an open consultation on Bridging the Digital Gender Divide.

Despite worldwide efforts, the global Internet penetration rate for men stands at 50.9 per cent compared to 44.9 percent for women globally, with the gap highest in Least Developed Countries (LDCs) and Africa. In LDCs, only one out of seven women is using the Internet compared with one out of five men. In Africa, the proportion of women using the Internet is 25% lower than the proportion of men using the Internet.

We are calling on all public stakeholders to submit their views on how we can achieve gender equality for Internet users.

Learn more

Ada Lovelace was a famous mathematician who has been called the first computer programmer. Born December 10, 1815 to famed poet Lord Byron and Lady Annabella, Lovelace bucked the social mores of the time through her innovation in mathematical science at a time when women were not allowed to attend university.

Lovelace’s translation of Luigi Menabrea’s paper on Babbage’s “Analytical Machine” included her own notes, of which Note G, which contains detailed directions on how the machine could calculate a sequence of the Bernoulli numbers and a table showing the punch card flow which has been accredited as the very first computer programme.

Learn more about International Day of the Girl events worldwide here.

This article first appeared in ITU News.

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