ICT4D and Gender

This article was extremely interesting to read after reading the article “Gender Assessment of ICT Access and Usage in Africa” for class this week. This article talked about a USAID meeting on gender integration in ICT4D projects. The group gathered to discuss why gender integration in ICT is important, the costs of overlooking it, and how best to fix the gender inequalities in ICT projects. Siobhan Green said that, “without any kind of mitigation, IT reinforces existing inequality. It is amoral in that it follows the pathways of existing inequality or equality… and its up to us, development experts, to try to mitigate against that common pathway”. This relates really well to the article we read for class that talked about the fact that women often do have less access to ICT but it is not directly because of their gender, but because of opportunities or rights they do not get because of their gender, such as education or equal salaries. Both articles suggest that development experts need to take this into account and find some way to solve the problem so that both genders have equal access to ICTs. However, this article went further and listed the five major differences that contribute to women’s ICT usage which are “access and opportunities to use ICTs, social expectations and roles, time and resources, education and economic growth, and business growth”. So, in order to somehow make access to ICTs equitable for women, development experts need to take all five things into account. Siobhan Green also suggested that developers “start with the assumption that different genders will experience the ICTs differently” and realize that ICT’s aren’t gender neutral when coming up with ways to integrate gender into ICT4D projects. I found this interesting because yes I think it’s true that women and men see technology differently, however, I think it is going to be hard for developers to figure out how each gender sees it differently in different cultures and areas of the world.

http://gbiportal.net/2012/02/24/addressing-gender-in-ict4d-projects/

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One response to “ICT4D and Gender

  • hmfraser

    I suppose the best way to figure out how each gender sees technology would be to ask the women themselves. As you said, it would be almost impossible to guess and if we tried we would often be wrong (however, in previous articles it has been found that in certain places women tend to use phones more socially and feel safer with them, whereas men tend to use them more for business-however this could be linked back to the inequalities between men and women. Women would probably also be using them more frequently for business if they were giving the education and opportunity to do so).

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