Gender Inequality and Media Education

In Gilwad, Milek and Stork’s Gender Assessment of ICT Access and Usage in Africa, it is made clear through data and analysis that women not only have less access to ICTs, but also use them in different ways. For example, while men spend the majority of their TV time watching sports, news, politics, and educational programs, women spend the majority of theirs watching entertainment and music, as well as “ANYTHING being broadcasted”. This suggests that the gender gap in ICTs needs to be addressed in both areas. One innovative strategy that I encountered in an OECD report is called “media education”. This approach, instead of making the use of ICTs its main goal, emphasizes the teaching of productive ways to utilize ICTs (i.e. find jobs, increase information sources, knowledge, awareness, etc.). The idea behind it is that children will see and engage with media outside the classroom in differing ways, making it difficult to have a uniform ICT curriculum. By focusing on how to productively interact with ICTs, the school can cover a wide range of bases effectively. While this does increase overall access that might not be available at home, it also increases usage productivity and awareness. This aids gender inequality by providing all children with a knowledge of how ICTs work and function, which could help the gap caused in some places where men are more likely to be in a professional job where ICTs are available and knowledge about them is necessary. In addition, it provides women with the knowledge necessary to pursue such jobs. Gilwad, Milek and Stork show in their research that for some ICTs, usage and access would be equal or even reversed if income and education were held constant. Deeper analysis in the classroom of ICT use can help break down these cultural perceptions that men are the ones who are most suited to use ICTs.

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