NGO seeks to bridge gender gap in tech

MissInTech aims to empower, educate and equip girls and women with the skills required for a career in ICT. Renee Laiviera speaks to the NGO to find out more about their initiatives and programmes.
According to the EU, in 2022, only about 18.9% of Europe’s ICT employees were female (MT: 18.2%), with even a smaller percentage in leadership roles. Photo: Shutterstock.com

Encouraging girls to pursue careers in ICT is vital for fostering diversity, innovation and economic empowerment. By breaking down barriers and promoting equal opportunities, we not only bridge the gender gap in the tech industry but also harness the unique perspectives and talents that girls bring to the table. Furthermore, increasing the participation of girls in ICT helps address biases in technology and ensures that advancements are developed with inclusivity.

In this context, the National Commission for the Promotion of Equality (NCPE) has been actively working to combat gender stereotypes in our society.

To enhance awareness for International Girls in ICT Day, marked in late April, the NCPE interviewed MissInTech, an NGO that seeks to bridge the gender gap in the ICT sector. Like similar organisations, MissInTech is at the forefront of promoting gender equality and empowerment in the technology sector.

What is MissInTech?

MissInTech works to attract women to STEM-related areas. Our activities aim to empower, educate and equip girls and women with the basic knowledge and skills required to follow a career in this area.

Why do we need more women in ICT?

As Michelle Obama once said: “We need all hands on deck.” With more women working in technology, we are in a better position to solve these problems. Women can bring a much-needed diverse perspective, allowing more inclusive and representative solutions to be built. If a large sector of the population is not involved, there is a big risk that the solutions found will also be exclusive. The limited participation of women in technology can be detrimental to companies, the STEM sector as a whole as well as the wider economy.

How do you think the perception of women in ICT has evolved over the years, and what improvements still need to be made?

As policymakers and organisations like ours work towards the purpose of narrowing the gender gap in technology, awareness is increasing. The stories of women in ICT started to get the attention they deserve and the problem of not having enough women in the sector has become a more well-known issue.

However, there is still a long way to go. According to the EU, in 2022, only about 18.9% of Europe’s ICT employees were female (MT: 18.2%), with even a smaller percentage in leadership roles. Even though many women are present in tertiary education, there is still a drop-off when it comes to entering and staying in the technology workforce.

MissInTech team members. Photo: MissInTech

Can you share any successful initiatives or programmes MissInTech has implemented?

As an organisation, we have successfully run many initiatives over the years. We have created and delivered workshops on Scratch programming and on web development; also participated in multiple local events in collaboration with schools and other entities with the aim to promote women in STEM.

Recently, we have been collaborating with the television programme TVM Tech to showcase some technology projects with the goals of increasing local representation of females in technology and, most importantly, to break down technology concepts in a more understandable way.

What are some of the key challenges that women in the tech industry face when assuming leadership positions?

There still remains a great under-representation of women in leadership roles. There is a promotion gap which leads to low retention rates. Gender discrimination both in the workplace, as well as the payroll, dissuades women from pursuing leadership roles. Besides encouraging young females to enter the ICT sector, these challenges need to be addressed by encouraging companies to take on strict policies against discrimination and to commit to ones which, instead, promote equality between genders.

As advocates for women in tech, what advice would you give to young girls and women aspiring to leadership roles in the ICT sector?

Be curious. Be hard-working. Stick to the goal − you will succeed. Do not be afraid to ask questions and ask for help.

There are many women and allies out there who are willing to share their story and are eager to support you in your journey.

Initiatives like MissInTech’s unwavering commitment to empowering women in tech make the path towards gender equality in the ICT sector clearer. As the NCPE reaffirms its dedication to combatting gender stereotypes, collaborative efforts are evident in fostering a more inclusive and diverse technological landscape.

Together, we can break down barriers, inspire future generations and create a world where everyone, regardless of gender, has equal opportunities to thrive in the exciting realm of technology.

Renee Laiviera is commissioner, National Commission for the Promotion of Equality.

The NCPE can be contacted on 2276 8200, equality@gov.mt or NCPE’s social media platforms (Facebook, Instagram and Twitter ).

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