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  • Doreen Yomoah

"I'd Blush if I Could": New Report by the Skills Coalition

On 22 May 2019, EQUALS’ Skills Coalition released its first report, I’d Blush if I Could: Closing gender divides in digital skills through education.

The publication is composed of three parts: a policy paper and two think pieces. The publication explains the role that education can play, not only in providing women and girls the opportunity to obtain increasingly necessary skills in ICTs, but also to shift dominant thinking around gender, technology and who “should” use it.

The policy paper, Rationales and Recommendations for Gender-Equal Digital Skills Education, outlines the persistence and severity of the digital skills gender gap, provides a basis for policy-makers to introduce legislation that will allow women and girls to catch up to their male counterparts, and makes recommendations on how strong digital skills for all can be developed through education.

The first think piece, The ICT Gender Equality Paradox, dives into the contradictory phenomenon of countries with higher levels of gender equality having the lowest proportions of women pursuing studies in STEM fields such as computer science, while countries with serious gender inequality boast the highest levels of women pursuing and completing advanced technology degrees.

The second think piece takes a closer look at the seemingly innocuous trend of female voice assistants being female by default. This paper, The Rise of Gendered AI and its Troubling Repercussions, focuses mainly on voice assistants, although other types — like chat bots and virtual agents — do exist and can contribute to negative stereotypes about women.

The publication’s recommendations will be useful for policy-makers and practitioners, as well as educators, business leaders and the international development community.

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