The International Day of Girls in Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) is celebrated on the fourth Thursday of April. It is a date that was designated, in 2010, by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the United Nations agency specialized in telecommunications.
This day aims to promote the study of science and technology in girls and young people, to reduce the gender gap in these disciplines that generate important opportunities for employment and growth.
On this date, both the ITU, as well as its member states, NGOs and technology companies carry out different initiatives that seek to inspire girls and young people to approach the study of STEM careers, as it is called (for its acronym in English) to disciplines related to science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
According to ITU data, some 357,000 girls and young women participated in more than 11,100 celebrations in 171 countries around the world, since this International Day began.
Why these differences? As mentioned in various reports, the problem arises from the social barriers that women face from childhood. This alludes to family and social stereotypes, which arise before choosing a career and during their studies.
“Women are told that they are careers for men or that they are not good at math,” said Cecilia Lavena, a consultant specializing in gender, during a presentation last year at the event. “Fewer myths, more data”, which was held at the Cultural Center of Science, in Buenos Aires, and which addressed gender differences in these disciplines.
Within the framework of these stereotypes, it is stated that the hard sciences and technology are “a thing for men”. And that ends up generating what in psychology is known as the Pygmalion effect or self-fulfilling prophecy: the expectations that society has about a certain group ends up determining its actions. The story ends up creating reality.
And for those women (who are few in relation to men) who manage to overcome these obstacles and dedicate themselves to studying STEM careers, many times the obstacles materialize in the workplace where they encounter the famous glass ceiling. This occurs for various reasons: sometimes there are barriers, more or less visible, when it comes to choosing personnel and other times they are the same ones to which the weight of stereotypes knocks them down and they do not dare to apply, they exclude themselves because they assume that they will not choose them for managerial positions, As explained in an interview with Infobae, the engineer Olga Cavalli, author of the book “Internet Governance and Regulations in Latin Americato” . In addition to all this, women assume the greatest weight of household chores and childcare. And although this is being rethought, the changes have not yet arrived in a massive or forceful way. It is all a long road that will take years to reformulate.
Recognizing that this gender gap is present is not intended to victimize women, but seeks to be the kick-start to transform it. Recognizing that something is happening is the first step in changing it. And why should it be changed? Because these stereotypes end up excluding women from one segment, such as science and technology, which generates value, well-paid job opportunities and, therefore, greater possibilities for economic growth, independence and, ultimately, freedom. Equalizing access and treatment conditions is the foundational brick.