Women in Tech in Nigeria: Analyzing the Gender Digital Divide

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For any society to fully close the digital divide, women must be integrated in the change process to a greater extent.

Cheaper internet rates and legal reforms have substantially boosted the usage and acceptance of digital processes across all businesses, yet, a number of fundamental hurdles have hindered digital access in most regions of the world.

And consequently, the gap between gender digital divide has grown even worse.

There has been little, if any, attention paid to the gendered elements of this digital divide in African countries. Of the estimated four billion individuals without internet connection globally, majority are women from Africa, according to a United Nations Report on Global Women Statistics.

The report also states that in Africa, just one out of every seven African women uses the internet, compared to one out of five African males.

The Global View

A growing number of people in low and middle income nations are gaining access to mobile services as a consequence of rapid innovation, combined with dropping pricing and a dynamic internet environment.

An assessment of the ability of governments to promote the use of new technological applications for socio-economic development reveals considerable gaps.

Similarly, a widening of the digital gap between those with access to ICTs and those who are digitally excluded, particularly women, would result in an increase in global inequality as more and more aspects of everyday life and fundamental services are supplied through digital technology.

It was revealed in 2016 that women have less access to technology than men in Africa, Latin America and Asia, even when it comes to mobile services, which are widely used by the poor, according to a survey report released by the GSMA, a cellular organization responsible for managing over 750 mobile operators.

However, the number of individuals utilizing mobile internet has exploded in recent years, and the gender gap continues to shrink. In 2020, an extra 112 million women in low and middle-income countries gained access to mobile internet.

Women in South Asia are mostly responsible for this surge, with 45 million women joining the internet historically, South Asia has had the biggest gender gap, however, between 2019 and 2020, it dropped from 50% to 36%.

Despite these gains, there is still a significant gender disparity in mobile internet use across low and middle-income countries, with women 15% less likely to use mobile internet than males, which is equivalent to 234 million fewer women.

Gender Digital Divide In Africa

Women in Africa have a disproportionate amount of access to the internet for a variety of reasons.

A Human Rights poll highlights cost as a prevalent factor, which may be worsened by oppressive views and prejudices about women that remain throughout Africa.

Ethnicity/race, ability and age are all interrelated factors that contribute to and worsen the gender digital divide that African women face. Other factors include language, religion, sexual orientation and class.

The Stats…

In Kenya, Ghana, Nigeria, Tanzania, Rwanda (the most unequal nation with 50% male population and 32% female population) and Mozambique, men have a greater proportion of mobile phone penetration than women.

Males are more likely to have access to smartphones than females, with a penetration rate of 60% for men and 52% for women in South Africa.

Comparatively, in Kenya, 63% of male internet users said they solely used the internet on their mobile phones, compared to 79% of female users.

On the other hand, in Nigeria, just 12% of women who own basic phones or feature phones utilize mobile internet.

Limitations for Women in Tech

The digital gender difference gets much more obvious when it comes to women who are technology creators.

There are a number of challenges surrounding the participation of women in the IT industry, and our “Women in Tech Report 2021” aimed at sourcing, gathering, and using data to give answers.

The report aimed at gathering ideas and opinions regarding women’s inclusion in technology from a cross-gender group of IT practitioners and experts.

Highlights from the Women in Tech Report

  • HR managers and recruiters say women don’t often apply for tech jobs
  • There is a common misconception that men are more technical than women
  • More HR managers, recruiters and organizations are beginning to enforce company policies aimed at reducing the gender stereotypes and encourage women inclusion in tech

The survey attempted to find out the average number of women currently employed in tech roles across different organizations and over 80% reported that they had less than 10 female tech professionals in their organizations.

However, another survey report from HR managers revealed that the low numbers in female tech professionals is more attributed to low application rates rather than low competence levels. In fact, 60% of the respondents affirmed that the female tech professionals in their organizations perform excellently, while the other 40% maintained an average rating.

According to the poll, 67% of women in tech said their decision to work in tech was motivated by their passion. The next most influential factor was the demanding nature of tech, which ranked at 22%.

In addition, 11% of respondents said they were inspired by the lucrativeness of the IT industry.

READ: Women in Tech in Nigeria Report 2021 by Proten International

Major Challenges facing Women in Tech

Female tech professionals commonly acknowledged that being female was not a barrier in the tech industry, although they all cited key obstacles to women’s advancement.

These include:

  • Motherhood
  • Marital Obligation
  • Lack of Mentorship opportunities
  • Lack of resources

DOWNLOAD: Women in Tech in Nigeria Report 2021 by Proten International

Popular Jobs for Women in Tech

Although our Women in Tech Report revealed that majority of the women who had aspirations in the tech space had little or no tech skills, they all expressed interest in a variety of noteworthy tech roles.

The most popular choices are listed below.

  • Data Analysis
  • Software Development
  • Web Development
  • UI/UX Design
  • AI/ Machine Learning

How Do We Bridge the Digital Divide?

Although it still looks like Africa is light years away from being on par with the western world technologically – if ever, the current growth rate looks encouraging.

Nonetheless, if considerable progress is to be made, then certain deliberate steps need to be taken.

  • For women, develop and execute programs that teach digital skills and provide personalized mentoring to guide them through the learning and adoption process.
  • Due to mobility restrictions, women typically do not have access to community internet centers and training facilities, for example. Women need access to informal education and lifelong learning opportunities in order to develop digital fluency.
  • Invest in women’s education in scientific and technology disciplines by providing them with scholarships and internships, and by considering gender quotas for admittance into education programs, in order to increase the number of women in decision-making positions.
  • It is important that the government act as a catalyst for change by promoting transversal and integrated policies that encourage the active participation of women in different areas of ICT.

MORE RECOMMENDATIONS: Women in Tech in Nigeria Report 2021 by Proten International

Post-COVID Effects on the Gender Gap

Because of the ongoing coronavirus epidemic, this gender digital divide has been intensified and brought into the spotlight.

Fortunately, the COVID-19 epidemic does not appear to have resulted in a general drop in mobile ownership among women, at least for the time being.

It appears that women’s mobile ownership, and specifically smartphone ownership, has been significantly impacted during the last year compared to men’s in Kenya, Nigeria, and Mozambique.

Although the gender disparity in mobile ownership is generally minor, the gender discrepancy in mobile internet use can be significant.

Kenya and Nigeria, for example, have gender gaps in mobile ownership of 7% and 4%, respectively, and gaps in mobile internet use of 42% and 29%, respectively, in both countries.

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