ITU launches Girls in ICT web portal
One-stop shop for training, scholarship and job
opportunities aimed at inspiring girls and young women to choose a career in
Geneva, 24 January 2012 – ITU has launched a new
web portal focused on
helping girls and women access training, job opportunities and career
information in the fast-growing information and communication (ICT) sector.
The portal is
designed to help girls and young women aged 11-25 prepare for and pursue a
technology career, providing links to scholarships, training and internships,
ICT contests and awards, tech camps, online girls’ networks and other programmes
that will give them a boost in entering what has become a largely male-dominated
It’s a little-known fact that women were the original programmers of ENIAC,
the US government’s first ever computer. But while teenage girls now use
computers and the Internet at rates similar to boys, they are five times less
likely to consider a technology-related career.
It wasn’t always so. In the US in the 1980s, for example, young women were
earning 37% of computer science degrees; today, that number has fallen to below
The lack of trained female professionals means that in OECD countries, women
now account for under 20% of ICT specialists. It also means that most developed
countries are forecasting an alarming shortfall in the number of skilled staff
to fill upcoming ICT jobs. The European Union calculates that in 10 years’ time
there will be 700,000 more ICT jobs than there are professionals to fill them;
globally, that shortfall is estimated to be closer to two million.
Turning girls on to technology
With computer and information systems professionals consistently ranked among
the top 20 best-paying jobs – on a par with surgeons, orthodontists, airline
pilots and lawyers – ITU is working to attract more young women and girls into
the ICT sector, encouraging them to expand their horizons and urging their
teachers and parents to cast aside old-fashioned negative attitudes.
Experts contend that girls and young women are ‘turned off’ careers in
technology by a range of factors – from the profession’s ‘geek’ image to
entrenched notions that technology careers are unfeminine, too challenging, or
just plain boring.
“Research consistently shows that girls tend to choose careers where they
feel they can ‘make a difference’ – healthcare, education, medicine. With this
new portal, we’re trying to show them that there’s much more to ICTs than
writing computer code,” said Dr Hamadoun Touré, ITU Secretary-General. “As we
move towards an ICT-based Knowledge Society, the rise of apps and the explosion
in telemedicine, remote learning systems and research and development make the
ICT industry the most exciting choice any young person can make. We are entering
unchartered waters of creativity, innovation and entirely new ways of working,
interacting and learning. I hope our new portal will serve as a showcase to
attract the many talented girls and young women in countries worldwide to this
ITU’s new Girls in ICT portal serves as storefront for tech jobs in markets
across the globe. Worldwide, the demand for technology professionals is steadily
increasing; in the US, for example, there are now more ICT jobs than there were
at the height of the dot-com boom.
One exciting development is the emergence of ‘mashed up’ hybrid jobs that
draw on multiple disciplines, such as bioengineering, power grid informatics,
digital media, and social and mobile apps. “There are many new interesting, fun,
creative hybrid jobs that combine ICT with business in every imaginable field,”
said Brahima Sanou, Director of ITU’s Telecommunication Development Bureau,
which created the new portal. “Encouraging girls into the technology industry
will create a positive feedback loop, in turn creating inspiring role models for
the next generation. Girls pondering career choices need tangible,
flesh-and-blood role models they can aspire to. Simply put, ‘if you can see it,
you can be it’. We hope our new Girls in ICT portal with its profiles and videos
of women in ICTs will be a major catalyst in creating exciting and rewarding new
choices for women worldwide.”
What does the portal contain?
The Girls in ICT Portal houses some 400 programmes, including over 100
scholarship programmes and an equal number of contests and awards, some 60
training and internship opportunities, over 100 online networks offering career
support and mentoring, as well as tech camps and Girls in ICT Day activities.
It also includes a link to a Girls in ICT Toolkit, developed by ITU partner
WITNET (the Global Network
of Women ICT Decision Makers). Organizations wishing to add a programme to the
Girls in ICT Portal simply need to log on and register.
ITU members recently voted to make ‘Women and Girls in ICT’ the theme of
ITU’s upcoming World Telecommunication and Information Society Day, which will
be celebrated on 16 May 2012. At its 2010 Plenipotentiary Conference, ITU also
endorsed the celebration of an annual global Girls in ICT Day, which in 2012
will be held on 26 April. Governments, private industry, UN agencies and NGOs
are encouraged to invite girls and university students to spend the day at their
offices, or organize ‘shadowing’ programmes with female mentors, so that they
gain a better understanding of the opportunities offered by the ICT sector.
For more information, contact the team at
For more information, please contact:
ITU activities on:
Head, Special Initiatives Division,
Chief, Media Relations and Public Information