As we have now learned, the digital divide in inclusive of several kinds of gaps. This week we are focusing on the gender divide, with men typically enjoying more access to ICTs than women. In Brazil, this gap persists, yet certain studies, namely one published by Martin Hilbert of the University of Southern California (USC) and the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (http://tinyurl.com/atpzwpg), posits that according to data, women in Brazil are more enthusiastic ICT users. Furthermore, the International Telecommunications Union has identified a major shortage of skilled professionals in the ICT sector in Brazil, with an expected shortage of 200,000 professionals in 2013 (http://tinyurl.com/ayc9a3e).
When I read both of these publications side by side, a lightbulb went off in my head, and I thought, “The opportunities are there, so why aren’t more women taking on these jobs and studying the skills they need to tap this untapped resource?” After doing some further research, I found that, like with many developing countries, both sociocultural and economic factors are keeping women out the technology workforce in Brazil. Other readings have put forth the notion that policy adjustment has the ability to remedy this divide, but in Brazil, such policy changes have not had a substantial effect. According to the World Bank,
“the Brazilian government has approved a policy framework that guarantees gender equality in the workplace. For example, the constitution of Brazil ‘prohibits differentiation in salary levels on the basis of sex, establishes incentives for encouraging the participation of women in the workforce, and provides paid maternity leave of 120 days and paternity leave for five days.'” (http://tinyurl.com/cl6lut4)
However, their research yields that these policies are not enforced, and are therefore perpetuating a poor employment climate for the ICT field. So, if according the Hilbert’s study in Brazil,
“only 22.8% of all working men use the Internet, while 28.5% of all working women are online. Only 47.0% of all Brazilian working men use a mobile phone, while 50.6% of all working women telecommunicate on the go…”
then shouldn’t the Latin American country begin to be more proactive about encouraging their female citizens to use the ICT skills they so clearly have in order to gain economic success? One would think so! But proof of this type of positive gender-equality movement is not there.