Information and Communication Technologies

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Over the past few decades, information and communication technologies (ICTs) have played an important role as a key solution for comprehensive development, poverty elimination, and the empowerment of groups discriminated against in society. The ICT sector presents tremendous opportunities for women. However, for women to seize these opportunities equally as men, the gender stereotypes and biases that prevent them from pursuing or making it big in STEM-related fields need to be addressed.

Women are still under-represented in this sector. They are less likely to take up studies in this field and are much less represented in the ICT job market.

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According to a recent ITU report, the trends are not promising: the percentage of women in computing jobs has been declining since 1991, when women held 36 percent of these jobs. As of 2015, they held only 25 percent of all computing jobs; for women of color, the percent was even lower (ITU Report, UNWOMEN, 2018).

The aim of this research is to analyze the impact of Information Communication Technologies on women’s socio-economic development in South Africa. This study will focus on ICTs in South Africa for women’s socio-economic development.


Women have been engaged in ICT development since its inception. It was a woman who developed the compiler, identified the first computer bug, and created the first programs. Today, example after example highlight the value of women’s voices and the importance of their contributions. Women’s participation in economic development through microloans to build small and medium enterprises has been well documented and publicized.

In 1995, the United Nations Commission on Science and Technology for Development (UNCSTD) recognized the growing influence of ICTs in development and the importance of women’s participation in discussions regarding its global integration. To that end, they established a Gender Working Group to address the significant gender issues from access control. The United Nations Division for the Advancement of Women (DAW), the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), and the UN ICT Task Force Secretariat released a report in 2002 that focused on ICTs as a tool to advance and empower women.

The continuing growth of female entrepreneurship in South Africa, particularly in the technology industry, is a testament to the willpower and determination of South African women, who often have to overcome great challenges in order to succeed in a male-dominated industry. Despite decades of progress towards achieving equality in the workplace, women remain significantly under-represented in emerging tech.

The imbalance between men and women in the technology sector is unlikely to be remedied unless organizations, schools, and universities work together to change entrenched perceptions about the tech industry, and also educate young people about the dynamics and range of careers in the technology world. This is according to a report issued by PwC’s Economics team that analyses the behavioral measures that bring gender equality to emerging tech. Although some strides have been made to advance women in tech, more needs to be done. Women currently hold only 19% of tech-related jobs at the top 10 global tech companies, relative to men who hold 81%. In leadership positions at these global tech giants, women make up 28%, with men representing 72%.

The importance of women empowerment

Women empowerment refers to the complete emancipation of women from socio-economic chains of dependency and deprivation. In some societies, women are still discriminated against based on their gender. They are not given the same rights as men. Empowering women can give them the right to equally participate in education, society, economy, language, and other activities (Savdy Doeung, 2018).

Empowering women and improving the efficiency of their work is critical for reducing poverty. Mounting evidence confirms that women’s improved economic status produces many positive economic and welfare outcomes for children, families, and societies. Countries with less inequality in men’s and women’s employment and education benefit from lower child mortality, as well as more transparent businesses and faster-growing economic growth.

Women’s ability to access income, technology, and paid work improves their children’s welfare more than men’s access to similar resources. Increases in household income, particularly income controlled by women, correlate with a boost in children’s nutrition and survival. Globally, children whose mothers enjoy higher earning potential and education go on to complete more education than children whose mothers have less schooling (ICRW, 2010).

According to the World Bank’s 2012 World Development Report, closing these gender gaps matters for development and policymaking. Greater gender equality can enhance economic productivity, improve development outcomes for the next generation, and make institutions and policies more representative (World Bank, 2012).

Technological innovation and Information Communication Technologies (ICTs) represent a way for developing world nations to foster economic development, improve levels of education and training, as well as address gender issues within society (Lee-Roy Chetty, 2013).

Technological capability is one of the five categories for the Growth Environment Scores (GES), Goldman Sachs’ composite indicator of the economic growth environment in 181 countries. A GES study of countries in the Persian Gulf shows that technology is so critical to growth and economic well-being, that if lags in technology use were addressed, along with low levels of investment and human resource development, the region could effectively close its income gap with the G-7 countries by 2050.

Gender and Technology Divide

The term “digital divide,” or the “digital split,” is a social issue referring to the gap between those who have ready access to computers and the internet (especially broadband access) and those who do not have access. It also refers to the differences in resources and capabilities to access and effectively utilize information and communication technology for development that exist within and between countries, regions, sectors, and socio-economic groups (Qudsia Kiran, 2018).

Improving women’s access to technology has the potential to spur their economic advancement and stimulate broader economic growth. Regrettably, technology has been underused in unlocking women’s economic opportunities (Kirrin Gill, Kim Brooks, Janna McDougall, Payal Patel, Aslihan Kes, ICRW, 2010).

According to ITU, a substantial divide persists between women and men and between girls and boys in internet access and use. Globally, some 250 million fewer women use the internet in their daily lives than men. In 2017, the internet penetration rate for men stood at 50.9 percent compared to 44.9 percent for women. Across all least developed countries, only one out of seven women use the internet compared with one out of five men (ITU, 2018).

Problem Statement

Despite advancements in technology, women are still lagging behind. They remain under-represented in this high-growth sector of the economy. Evidence has shown that improving women’s access to technology has the potential to boost their economic advancement and stimulate broader economic growth. Unfortunately, technology has been underutilized in unlocking women’s economic opportunities. Therefore, this study seeks to analyze the impact of information technologies on women’s socio-economic development and explore what could possibly be done to improve women’s socio-economic status through ICT.

Aim of Research

Creswell (2007) refers to the aim of research as the desired outcomes of study by the researcher, which includes the researcher’s intentions, giving a picture of the whole research. The aim of this research is to determine the impact of information communication technologies on women’s socio-economic development.

The purpose of this study is to determine the realities of what it takes to enable women to increase their resources and economic opportunities, and strengthen their ability to compete in market economies. Most importantly, it speaks to the growing number of actors driving innovation from the public, private, and social sectors, with practical recommendations on how to improve the way technologies are developed and deployed so they benefit women, enabling them to be more successful economic actors, stronger leaders, and greater contributors to their families, communities, and domestic economies.

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Information and Communication Technologies. (2019, Apr 14). Retrieved from