UNICEF report: Women are clearly disadvantaged when it comes to digitization

90 percent of girls in developing countries are offline. In Austria, too, women face obstacles.

Only half as many girls in developing countries have Internet access as their male peers. This is shown by a recent report by the UN children’s fund Unicef. Just ten percent of girls and young women in low-income countries use the Internet. Both boys are 22 percent.

The situation is similar in countries with lower and middle incomes: Use there 61 percent of boys the Internet. The girls only have it 38 percent. The current research in 32 countries and regions also shows that girls are 35 percent less likely to have simple digital skills such as copying files or sending emails.

Boys are more likely to have smartphones

Unicef ​​Education Director Robert Jenkins stresses that the digital divide between girls and boys is not just about internet access and technology. “It’s about empowering girls to be innovative, creative and leaders.” In order to close gender gaps in the labor market, particularly in science and technology, ‘we must start now to help young people, especially girls, to acquire digital skills’.

According to the results of Unicef, the reasons for the different internet access of girls and boys are not only technical requirements. The family situation also plays a role. Parents, caregivers and family members not only provide boys with digital support much more often than their sisters. They are also more likely to have a mobile phone than girls.

“Digital divide” also in Austria

Even rich countries are a long way from gender parity when it comes to digitization. In Great Britain, for example, where almost everyone has access to the Internet, large differences in the digital skills of young people between the ages of 15 and 24 could also be observed, according to Unicef. For example, girls and young women are 15 percentage points less likely to have advanced digital skills than boys and men of the same age.

In Austria, the proportion of children and young people who use the internet and digital devices is very high for both girls and boys, which explains why Teresa Koch and Franziska Laaber who are doing research on the topic for the EU project “DIGYMATEX”. However, there are also clear differences between the sexes in usage behavior in Germany.

For example, when it comes to higher IT skills (e.g. programming), where boys are still clearly ahead. One reason for this is “that girls themselvesas less tech-savvy and less inclined to teach themselves new things about tech than boys”.While girls are initially just as interested in technology as boys, this interest then tends to decrease in their teens, according to the researchers. “This self-assessment, despite similar access to digital technology, can put girls at a disadvantage.”

disadvantage in the workplace

For example at work, as a recently presented research report by the University of Applied Sciences in Wiener Neustadt suggests. The research results of the university of applied sciences showed that women, on average, have fewer digital skills than men and that, in contrast to their male colleagues, they are confronted with significantly more barriers when it comes to accessing digital skills and corresponding further education offers.

“For example, there are too few offers that part-time employees can take advantage of. The women concerned pointed out a lack of compatibility with childcare, as well as a need to catch up after maternity leave and an often inadequate support offer with regard to digital applications after a longer break,” explains the am Researcher Karin Wegenstein, who was involved in the project, said this resulted in “a systematic disadvantage for women in the labor market”.

By Editor

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