It is 6 p.m. and I start my Computer Science master’s degree class by hitting the Zoom icon. Within a couple of minutes, my screen is filled up with the video boxes of all my 22 students… all men. Over the last few years that I’ve been teaching at a major public university in my country, the story has been the same: if I have 2-3 women in my 20-30 student classroom, I can consider it a success.
Despite the commitments of governments and organizations to transform and increase women's participation in STEM fields, and particularly in information technology (IT) careers, opportunities, access, and prejudices continue to unbalance the gender equation. According to a study conducted by Deloitte Global, in 2020 women represented only 31% of the overall workforce of technology companies, and that number drops to 23% when it comes to women in technical roles. Other statistics are even less promising, setting the ratio of men to women in engineering at 5:1.
This is not a minor issue. If you consider that digital skills and information technology are not only driving the Fourth Industrial Revolution but also generating the largest count of job openings―the average salary being 19% higher than in any other industry―increasing women’s participation in technology career roles and closing the gender equity gap is imperative. According to UNESCO, 75% of jobs of the future will require some sort of digital skills, and the trend is growing at an astonishing 65% rate. Leaving women behind will increase the gender gap at a high pace, while promoting and fostering the participation of women in IT and STEM fields will significantly, and rapidly, help close that gap.
To do this, it is absolutely necessary to develop targeted programs and foster connections, understanding, and trust between stakeholders to inspire more girls and women to explore STEM careers and to create opportunities for them to fill technical roles that are avidly required by all companies in all industries.
Oracle Academy Latin America Girls in ICT event helps girls explore IT
To address this scenario, Oracle Academy invests in initiatives that democratize girls' technology education and support them in their career development. On April 28, 2022, Oracle Academy joined the United Nations International Telecommunication Union’s (ITU) global celebration of Girls in ICT, an event designed to empower and encourage young women worldwide to consider careers in technology, allowing both girls and businesses to benefit from increased female participation in the industry.
The online event gathered female students from all across Latin America, from Jamaica to Brazil, from Chile to Colombia, in an open space to share experiences, discuss and address issues, and generate a supportive community for the entire region. During the event, female students from Oracle Academy member institutions, along with Oracle female employees, hosted a series of technical workshops, discussion panels, and mentoring sessions in a relaxed and participative environment, where they openly discussed topics centered on fostering and inspiring women’s participation in IT.
Oracle Academy staff also had the opportunity to highlight and recognize the work of a group of faculty in the region who have excelled in helping encourage and facilitate young women into acquiring digital skills and entering IT fields. Our heroes included Prof. Catalina Barbeyto, Universidad Tecnológica de Nezahualcoyotl, Mexico; Prof. Evelyn Ramirez, Colegio Miravalle, Costa Rica; Prof. Simone Viana, FAETEC, Brasil; Prof. Nelliud Torres, Universidad de Puerto Rico, Puerto Rico; and Prof. Alejandra Guajardo, DUOC UC, Chile. All of these member educators lead initiatives and programs that foster female students to select―and persevere―in IT careers. We celebrated their efforts and successes as our own.
Oracle Academy recognizes that young women face important challenges in the world of technology. We want to be a bridge and connect them to this world, encouraging their participation, reducing access barriers, and increasing their opportunities in the sector.