Women, Information Science, and Technology
Question 2: Women, Information Science, and Technology
Advancements in science and technology have aided innovation, which has been critical in improving the quality of life and developmental goals in modern communities. Formulation of gender sensitive policies in support of both women and men is critical towards achievement of sustainable and equitable development across all gender fronts. Women assume an important position and role in various fields such as water, energy, sanitation, transport, and agriculture. This is illustrative that science, technology, and innovation are critical towards enabling sustainable development of livelihoods of women and their families.
Women are critical and powerful agents of change since they play pivotal roles in socioeconomic development (Schiebinger 13). The advancement of women is important as it has transformative capabilities for modern economies and communities. Empowerment of women and enabling them to enhance the efficiency of their work is paramount in achievement of sustainable development and the reduction of poverty. Research is indicative that the improvement of the economic status of women is critical towards socioeconomic development and respective outcomes for families, children, and communities. It is noted that countries that exhibit low levels of inequality across gender divides in terms of employment and educational opportunities usually have minimal incidences of child mortality.
It is also evident that the enhanced abilities of women to access equal incomes, paid work and technology enhances the welfare of their children when compared to the access to similar resources by their male counterparts. The economic and social status of a mother is considered as a critical indicator of the possibility and capabilities of her children to complete education and in the process experience healthy and prosperous futures. In addition, children whose mothers have completed education are likely to complete higher education when compared to parents who have been unable to access education (Regional Secretariat for Gender Equity in Science and Technology (RESGEST) 24). All these facts are illustrative of the importance of educating women and providing them with equal opportunities and skills to meet familial and individual demands in competitive societies.
Technology is currently termed as an engine for growth of economies around the world. Technological capabilities for nations are among the five categories provided in the Growth Environment Scores (GES), composite indicator of economic growth environments developed by Goldman Sachs. Enhancing the access to technology for women has been termed as critical towards realization of economic advancement and stimulation of economic growth for women parts (UNESCO 26). However, technology has been underutilized in unlocking the economic potential of women, which is manifested by the presence of a significant gender divide between men and women in both modern and traditional technologies.
A majority of women in low-income brackets in the developing economies are primarily engaged in agricultural activities. Men have been the early adopters and drivers of adoption of technological advancements in developing economies. Essentially the divide on technology adoption across gender is significant in low and middle-income economies despite existing in both developing and developing states. It is also evident that a large number of women especially in developing states are denied the basic benefits accruable from the use of technology. Rural populations, largely made up of women, utilize inefficient fuels for energy purposes and in the process exposing them to health and safety risks. Thus, women in rural settings are disproportionately lacking in access to efficient, clean, safe and reliable forms of energy to enable them undertake domestic duties. In addition, the global economic and subsequent technological advancements have brought about significant opportunities for elimination of barriers and the technology and gender divide. This is also important towards leveraging of the benefits of technological advancements and achievement of economic development in middle and low income women especially in developing economies.
Elimination of the technology and gender divide demands two approaches to ensure equality and new opportunities for both men and women parts (UNESCO 33). The first approach would be focus on innovation in various fields such as information, communication, and energy that can provide rapid, significant, and sustainable benefits to women especially those in developing countries. Similar to sectors such as health, water, education and agriculture, others such as ICT and energy can be effective in delivery if significant benefits to women and the economy as a whole irrespective of primary occupation. The prevalence of computers and smartphones has provided women with opportunities for pursing education and developing businesses and in the process developing their communities and families.
Secondly, elimination of the divide between gender and technology can be eradicated through developing of thinking and perspectives ion deployment and developing of existing and new technologies for use in communities ((Tanzania Gender Networking Program (TGNP) 43). The inclusion of both and men would provide both genders with opportunities for providing input in the form of thinking, consultation and development in critical design and deployment stages of new technologies. In essence, the focus should be on ensuring gender parity in all stages of technology lifecycle to ensure that communities and societies benefit from the potential of gender equality in science information and technology.
The inclusion of women in all technology development lifecycle stages can be effective in enabling women to use technology and more improve their respective economic activities. Economic advancement related to technology for women is manifested in three parts (UNESCO 37). This includes enhanced economic decision-making, economic self-confidence, efficacy, and improved access to diverse economic resources. It is noted that middle and lower income women in the developing economies assume similar roles and positions in their respective communities. Research indicates that they are the primary suppliers of agricultural labor, are likely to be involved in formal employment that is marked by minima benefits and employment security; are likely to be engaged in unpaid labor in the communities and may be less literate than their male counterparts may.
Women and girls make up more than half of the current world population, which demands that they should be viewed as critical intellectual assets. This should also enable focus on enabling them to access economic and educational opportunities to enhance their capacities for development and personal growth. Women assume important roles in the community and families which make it an imperative of states to invest in the education of women and provision of skills to navigate the science and information technology sectors. Women are significantly underrepresented in science, technology, related careers, and activities, which make significant contributions to economic growth and stability especially for developing states (Tanzania Gender Networking Program (TGNP) 46).
It is important to note that event in advanced and developed economies around the world such as the United States, ethnic minority groups and women are marginalized and underrepresented to levels, which pose threats to economic development of such countries. The National Science and Technology Council (NSTC) in the United States in a report dating to the year 2000 noted of importance of inclusion of all ethnicities, races, and genders in development of science, technology, and engineering sectors. For economies to continue developing and achieve economic growth, it is imperative that develop workforces that source talented labor from all demographics. Research is indicative that states are coming to the realization of the need to increase the number of women in science and technology sectors as a means of ensuring availability of talented, competent, and skilled workers.
Science and technology are important tools for social change as they provide women and girls with opportunities to access economic and educational opportunities that were initially unavailable because of the presence of prejudices. Science and technology should be aggressively included as part of the developmental agendas in both developing and developed states around the world. This is because despite the demographic trends of inclusion of women in various economic sectors, the women remain largely excluded from technological and scientific education and training. This results in a thought process of marginalization amongst the women, rendering them unable to access similar opportunities to their male counterparts.
Gender and ethnic marginalization give rise to poverty resulting in underdevelopment of economies and communities. Science and technology will continue to the future, which is illustrative of the importance of gender inclusion to ensure women become empowered with education and skills for social development. Science and technological advancements have been critical towards the gradual inclusion of women in various economic sectors and eradication of traditional prejudices founded on social constructs of gender.
Science and technology, especially in developed states have provided women with enhanced income levels and decision-making capacities. It is important to note that despite advancements in science, technology, and engineering, women remain underrepresented in careers in science related fields. Governments and respective policymakers should ensure that the role of women as developers and appliers of advancements in technology, science, and engineering are improved through new policies and regulations to level the involvement of both genders. Research indicates that a significant number of women assume support roles in science and technology related fields such as administrative assistants, technicians and research assistants. Such women make important contributions, despite minimal recognition by other professionals such as scientists and institutions.
There is an ideology that engineers and scientists are only producers and appliers of knowledge rather than becoming subsequent users of such information. In addition, the utilization of women as professionals in science, engineering, and technology related fields is marked by various challenges. Issues such as fair recruitment practices, employee retention and career advancements plague the roles of women in modern science, engineering and technology related capacities. This is indicative that a large number of women are necessary in higher roles in institutions and businesses to ensure comfortable utilization of science and technology in their respective capacities.
In addition, the recognition of the equal capacities and capabilities of women as scientists and engineers has improved workplace treatment given that they are anticipated to adhere to similar levels of deliverables. Advances in science and technology and engineering have enabled women to develop solutions for problems facing women in both domestic and international capacities. In addition, women empowerment as a result of such advancements has enabled significant levels of competition in various fields and in the process enabling them to solve global problems such as disease, inadequate food, water and sanitation, sustainable energy, pollution and equal opportunities for education and in modern workplace settings. Science, technology and engineering advancements enabled the industrial revolution to facilitate women assume roles that were traditionally reserved for men due to the physique. Such advancements have provided women with capabilities to work in factories as machines enhanced the execution of menial tasks. For instance, the industrial revolution that brought about the development of aircraft during the second world enabled women to work in airplane factories resulting in the phenomenon of “Rosie the riveter”. These women balanced their roles as caretakers and laborers in airplane factories to support their families while their husbands were engaged in combat.
Women have made noteworthy progress in the entire span of the 20th century as well as in the 21st century. The presence of educational institutions that provide equal opportunities for both women and men is indicative of the understanding of the importance of empowering women through skills and education in the various fields of science and technology. It is important to note that feminization of various occupations may have brought about unintended consequences, the reduction of the status of such occupations. Subsequent effects of such include the emergence in inconsistencies and differences in wages and remuneration for women when compared to men, whereby the latter accrue higher pay. This is related to traditional prejudices and perceptions that men are well equipped to assume and execute important duties.
Culture is a critical determinant in the empowerment of women and girls. In some Middle East, Asian, African countries and communities in developed countries, women assume domestic roles. This is attributed to traditional views and practices whereby men assume predominant positions in society as providers and performers of important duties and responsibilities in organizations and institutions. On the other hand, women are denied opportunities to access education, skills that would make them compete with men in science, and technology related fields. However, the educated and empowered women in such prejudicial societies have enhanced their focus on enabling other women and girls to access education, skills, and entrepreneurial opportunities for individual and family development. However, as a result of technological advancements and growth of science, globalization has opened such cultures to new perspectives. Globalization and its rapid pace can be attributed to advancements in science in technology, which provided conservative communities with opportunities to interact within the global marketplace as they become exposed to new cultures.
The modern woman works in science and technology related occupations because of the pleasure and benefits associated with these fields (UN-HABITAT 51). Advancements in science and technology have been critical towards enabling women to overcome challenges of accessing equal opportunities for employment and promotion in institutions and organizations. Using skills in science and technology women have been able to explore entrepreneurial opportunities by establishing successful businesses. This is indicative that education that has been facilitated by developments in science and technology is critical towards enabling women to access business opportunities despite the presence of bias and prejudice in the labor markets.
Knowledge advancements in science and technology have provided women with capacities to compete effectively in the marketplace. The changes attributable to advancements in science and technology have altered the social constructs of gender and more so the views of the role of women in modern society. Women are primary victims of gender discrimination in education, training, and employment. Discrimination of women based on gender is prevalent, impeding them from accessing education and training. This is highly prevalent in vocational training and more so training in fields in science and technology. This has resulted in high incidences of illiteracy and inadequate workplace capacities for women to compete in modern workplaces.
Business and entrepreneurial knowledge and skills is important for women to enable them gain capacities for organizing, planning, and coordination of personal and workplace related duties and responsibilities. In addition, developments in science and technology have enabled the women to access education and skills on leadership and management. This is a critical development as it has enhanced and balanced the labor market by providing both genders with initiative to compete with one another (Tanzania Gender Networking Program (TGNP) 49). Provision of women with education and training on such areas has been effective through new technologies and advancements in science and in the process enabling them to impart similar skills and knowledge to young girls and women.
New communications technology provides women around the world with access to numerous educational training and entrepreneurial opportunities. Education of the girl child and providing them with skills to navigate the overly competitive labor market is important towards ensuring future economic prosperity. Discrimination against women is also noted in sectors such as healthcare and access to information. This is also manifested in inequalities in issues related to reproduction and sexual relations. However, this does not overrule the importance of science and technology in enabling women to become responsible for their health, their families and of their respective communities.
Communications and media around the world have evolved significant due to extensive technological advancements. This has been achieved at the expense of degrading the modern woman through projection of degrading and negative images of women in the form of violence and pornographic elements. The portrayal of women as objects has given rise to high incidences of sexual, physical, and psychological abuse given that such occurrences are affirmed by media as common social practices. In conclusion, it is anticipated that future advancements in science and technology will provide all genders and minorities with numerous opportunities for growth and development. This can only be achieved if governments, institutions and society shifts and abandons prejudicial and biased perspective over socially constructed gender roles and discrimination of women, girls, ethnic and racial minorities in education, training , employment and business opportunities.
Regional Secretariat for Gender Equity in Science and Technology (RESGEST). Comparative study on gender dimensions of policies related to the development and application of science and technology for sustainable development. Jakarta: UNESCO, 2004. Print.
South African Reference Group on Women in Science and Technology (SARG). Women’s participation in science, engineering, and technology. Pretoria: Department of Science, and Technology, 2004. Print.
Schiebinger, L. “Gender, science and technology.” Background paper prepared for a UN Women Expert Meeting on Gender, Science and Technology in Paris, 28 September–1 October 2010, Paris: United Nations, 2010.Print.
UN-HABITAT. Gender mainstreaming in local authorities: Best practices. Nairobi: United Nations Settlements Program, 2008. Print.
UNESCO. Science, Technology, and Gender: An International Report. Paris: UNESCO, 2007.
Tanzania Gender Networking Program (TGNP). “Gender mainstreaming in development policies and programs.” Presentation made during Policy Dialogue Seminar at the Economic and Social Research Foundation (ESRF), Dar es Salaam, 11 May 2006, Dar es Salaam: TGNP (Tanzania Gender Networking Program), 2006. Print.
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