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Lack of technical literacy and education leads to digital gender inequality: Unicef

According to Unicef if girls and women remain digitally illiterate, they risk becoming further marginalised in society and at home.

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Lack of technical literacy and education leads to digital gender inequality: Unicef
In India, only 29 per cent of all users are female. wikimedia commons
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  • A step towards digitalised Indian economy has been taken
  • The risk of becoming marginalised increases if girls and women remain digitally illiterate
  • In villages of Rajasthan and UP, they prohibit girls to have access to mobile phones

Kolkata, December 22, 2017: With less than one-third of India’s internet users being females, the country’s girls and women risk becoming further marginalised in society and at home if they remain digitally illiterate in the backdrop of the country making a public push towards a more digitalised economy, a Unicef report says.

“There is a digital gender gap as well. Globally, 12 per cent more men than women used the internet in 2017. In India, less than one third of internet users are female.

“… Recently, India has made a public push towards a more digitalised economy, including reducing dependency on physical cash. If girls and women remain digitally illiterate, they risk becoming further marginalised in society and at home,” says the 2017 edition of Unicef’s annual flagship publication “the State of the World’s Children Report” launched here on Thursday.

Themed “Children in a digital world”, the latest report provides country-level examples to give a sense of the kinds of barriers girls and women confront.

In India, where only 29 per cent of all internet users are female, girls in rural areas often face restrictions on their use of ICTs solely because of their gender, it says.

Citing examples, the report quotes a village governing body in rural Rajasthan as stating that “girls were not to use mobile phones or social media”.

“Another village in Uttar Pradesh banned unmarried girls from using mobile phones along with a ban on wearing certain kinds of clothing, such as jeans and T-shirts.”

Pointing out that digital connection and literacy offer advantages in a knowledge-based society, improving children’s lives and their future earning potential, the report says: “At the same time, connectivity doesn’t always equalise opportunity.”

“Digital divides can mirror broader societal divides — between rich and poor, cities and rural areas, between those with or without an education — and between women and men.

“India is one place in which the digital divide highlights society’s deep chasms,” says the report, calling for addressing the disparity at the highest levels for universal, safe access to be realised.

It says the digital gender divide is caused by a number of factors — “social norms, education levels, lack of technical literacy and lack of confidence among them — but is often rooted in parents’ concern for the safety of their daughters.

“Many fear that allowing girls to use the internet will lead to liaisons with men, bringing shame on the family. For most girls, if they are allowed to use the internet, their every move is monitored by their parents or brothers.

“In a society that is still largely patriarchal, for girls, traits like deference and obedience are often valued over intelligence and curiosity. In some households, technology is not seen as necessary or beneficial for girls and women,” the report says. (IANS)

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Report: Google Needs to do More on Bridging Gender Gap

In February this year, the US National Labour Relations Board (NLRB) said that Google did not violate labour laws when it fired Damore

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Google arms admins to monitor workers in G-Suite apps. Pixabay

Although the percentage of women in leadership roles at Google has increased from 20.8 to 25.5 per cent in the last four years, women still make up only 30.9 per cent of its global workforce while men 69.1 per cent, the tech giant has revealed.

In its annual diversity report released on Thursday, Google said it has made some progress in leadership ranks by gender and ethnicity.

“The data in this report shows that despite significant effort, and some pockets of success, we need to do more to achieve our desired diversity and inclusion outcomes,” said Danielle Brown, VP-Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer.

In 2017, women hires in tech positions rose to 24.5 per cent, although overall hiring of women dropped from 31.4 per cent to 31.2 per cent.

“Since 2014, women hires in tech have increased from 20.8 per cent to 24.5 per cent, which shows that our focus on hiring more women into technical positions is having impact,” said Brown.

The diversity report came after a year when an employee named James Damore sent out a long anti-diversity memo and was later fired.

Damore’s memo, titled “Google’s Ideological Echo Chamber”, claims that when it comes to technology, there is a biological difference between men and women.

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Google on a smartphone device, Pixabay

In February this year, the US National Labour Relations Board (NLRB) said that Google did not violate labour laws when it fired Damore.

According to the new diversity report, in terms of race and ethnicity (US data only), 2.5 per cent of Google’s workforce is Black, 3.6 per cent is Hispanic/Latin, 36.3 per cent is Asian and 53.1 per cent is White.

“Our gains in women’s representation have largely been driven by White and Asian women. Representation of Asian women increased considerably to 12.5 per cent of Google’s workforce, up from 10 per cent overall in 2014,” the report noted.

This is lower than the increase for Asian men who make up 25.7 per cent of Google, up from 21.4 per cent in 2014.

Also Read: Google: Fully Responsible For Securing Customers’ Data

Attrition rates in 2017 were highest for Black Googlers followed by Latin Googlers, and lowest for Asian Googlers.

“Black Googler attrition rates, while improving in recent years, have offset some of our hiring gains, which has led to smaller increases in representation than we would have seen otherwise.”

“We’re working hard to better understand what drives higher attrition and taking focused measures to improve it,” Brown added. (IANS)