Photo Credits: Telefonica Foundation Ecuador

When it comes to talking about education and technology the first word that comes to my mind is inequality. There are several gaps in the world, especially in Education. When we add the gender concept, it is discouraging how the gap is even broader.

The first time I started working in education projects in Ecuador, I sadly found injustices about women education. Girls were not allowed to attend school because they had to work in their houses (cooking, cleaning, taking care of their siblings); teenagers dropped high-school because of early pregnancy or they had to work to support the family economy; if they finish high—school their parents expected them to get married soon; or  if they access to the university, their classmates and teachers discouraged them and challenged them for being women. Probably, this situations will sound familiars to most of the countries, but this MUST stop.

The educational systems and the common thinking have put women apart because of chauvinists points of view. When women face that reality, it is difficult to talk about only the inclusion of women in technology. It is mandatory to keep flagging the current injustices in the education.

More girls than boys remain out of school – 16 million girls will never set foot in a classroom  – and women account for two-thirds of the 750 million adults without basic literacy skills, according to UNESCO (UNESCO Institute for Statistics)

This is an unequal base. How can we talk about digital literacy in women if a significant percentage are not even allowed to access to school or are discriminated by their culture?

Let me tell you a story. In my previous job at Telefonica Foundation, we launched an educational project to develop digital skills in children. When we promoted it in the communities, we received applications from 90% of boys and only 10% of girls. That means 1 to 10 were girls. What happened? The common thinking was that technology is only for men and not for women. We encouraged their parents to let her daughters assist to the training and we raise the percentage at least to 40%. For three months, the students learned how to code using open software and hardware, and the final project was to create a prototype that helps their community.

The results were outstanding. We launched an open house presenting projects made by girls and boys working together. The community changed their minds.  From robots to collect agricultural products, cars, water systems, mechanical shelves, toys, and many others.  We fought against stereotypes. We switched from “That is not a girls job” to “My daughter is brilliant in coding”. Therefore the best way to start working with inequality in education is to break cultures paradigms and open opportunities.

Probably, not all the girls who presented their projects will reach to a Information and Technology  career or any career at all. That said, It is everybody responsibility to work on promoting the access of education so they can find their talents. According to the report “Cracking the Code: Girls’ and Womens’ Education in STEM” – UNESCO, only 28% of all of the world’s researchers are women. Only 17 women have won a Nobel Prize in physics, chemistry or medicine since Marie Curie in 1903, compared to 572 men. The STEM education related to Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics is a priority in the world. We can not continue talking about education without developing curricula that are gender-sensitive and stimulating interest in girls about these topics, without stereotypes. We need women to be involved in researching, we need a new perspective, we need equality in STEM education. It’s everybody responsibility!

In commemoration of the International Day of Girl, I had the honor to participate in the discussion panel organized by Atlas Corps, in which outstanding fellows like Maryam Rahim (Global Communities), Pragya Mishra (Atlas Corps), Pheona Wamayi (Voice of America) shared a deep and insightful conversation about gender inequality. Check the discussion in the following video

Atlas Corps Fellows engage in a vibrant conversation as part of #DayoftheGirl. Join the conversation featuring Pragya Mishra, Miguel Aguirre Naranjo, Pheonah Wamayi, Maryem Rahim! This conversation is part of the ongoing "Atlas Corps Talks" Series and highlights our annual theme of #empowerwomen.Thanks to Voice of America – VOA for hosting!We invite you to celebrate with Atlas Corps on December 1 at our Empower Women Globally Gala. Details at more about Atlas Corps at #AtlasCorpsRepresent #AtlasCorpsWomen #GivingToday

Posted by Atlas Corps on Thursday, October 11, 2018