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Female talent key to closing gaps in the digital age

Female talent key to closing gaps in the digital age

ColombiaThought LeadershipTop Stories

Beatriz Perdomo, Marketing Director for Latin America, Adobe, and Co-Founder at Girls4Coder, suggests three steps to boost female talent in IT and STEM.

Beatriz Perdomo, Marketing Director for Latin America, Adobe, and Co-Founder at Girls4Coder

We talk so much about the digital talent gap and the high demand for technology positions in both large companies that have been operating in the market for years as well as start-ups.

Engineers have always been necessary for companies, but their importance is even more vital with the growth and adoption of innovative technologies. Having a strong and trained IT team is a challenge many companies face.

According to figures from the Colombian Ministry of ICT, currently, 274,386 people are part of the Information Technology and communications sector, of which only 43.4% are women, while 56.6% are men.

Surprisingly, the country has found just a handful of the more than 30,000 developers, programmers and coders needed. And the trend may increase to the point that, by 2025, it would require more than 200,000.

In terms of work, imagine the possibilities for the future of children and young people. They will have a more sophisticated education in a few years due to academic programs that include computational thinking and programming languages, including Java, Python, PHP, SQL and others.

That is not the end. It is also essential to provide a further impulse to female talent in the IT industry and, of course, in the digital world. At Girls4Code, an organization that I founded with Angélica Lichilin, we believe that the key to closing the digital divide lies in female talent.

To get to this position, there are several tasks that need to be achieved. The first of these is to make these careers attractive to females.  

Secondly, there needs to be positive role models for females.

Thirdly, we need to identify why females leave these careers in both rural and urban areas. We need to take measures to prevent this and make adjustments.

The first task is already advancing, although it is still necessary to promote technology careers. Organizations such as Girls4Code, public programs and private entities have encouraged the adoption of computational thinking spaces in urban and rural areas.

The important factor is that there is enough interest in these careers to satisfy supply.

The second duty completes the first one. At the same time, it is necessary to advance with the challenge of closing the gender gap in leading positions in IT organizations. Choosing a profession depends not only on our tastes but also on the people who inspire us.

Role models are essential from childhood and adolescence because they help us navigate our identity and pursue our adult dreams. A group of psychology professors at the University of Washington points out that it is difficult to find a career when these models do not exist, especially for professions with a more significant male presence.

But the more female role models that stand out in this industry, the greater the chance that girls and young women will see the opportunities that exist.

All national companies must give more women the opportunity to reach positions of power to become a source of inspiration for other generations.

We have the challenge and purpose to reach the top, of standing out and making our achievements visible. This will send a powerful message to girls and young women to show that we are competent, responsible and brilliant. We need to encourage more people to dream of STEM careers in the future to close the gap.

The third factor can be complicated but it is possible to tackle it. It is about getting rid of traditional and harmful habits and stereotypes. One of the main conclusions of the study entitled “I Don’t Know Why They Make It So Hard Here”: Institutional Factors and Undergraduate Women’s STEM Participation, highlights the ‘threat of stereotyping’ as a severe problem within institutions because this unconsciously promotes negative messages and misogynistic mockery.

These three tasks have an undeniable connection; success in one directly affects the other. The key is to keep on promoting female talent and digital skills in women. In 2018, 13.4% of women were in conditions of monetary poverty compared to 11.9% of men. A change in mentality and habits would mean closing the opportunity gap and gender gap and help boost export-type female talent.

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