2.2 Access to digital skills

Women and girls find it more difficult than men to access programmes equipping them with digital skills in the area of science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM). Globally, only 35 per cent of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) students in higher education globally are women, and differences are observed within STEM disciplines. For instance, according to UNESCO, “only 3 per cent of female students in higher education choose information and communication technologies (ICT) studies. This gender disparity is alarming, especially as STEM careers are often referred to as the jobs of the future, driving innovation, social wellbeing, inclusive growth and sustainable development.”30

Furthermore, women are still under-represented in fields such as computing, digital information technology, engineering, mathematics and physics. According to UNESCO, they made up a third (33 per cent) of researchers in 2018 and “have achieved parity when it comes to numbers in life sciences in many countries, the report says. But women make up just 28 per cent of graduates in engineering and 40per cent of those in computer sciences – skills vital for the jobs of the future, it added.”31

Box 1: ITU Digital Skills Assessment Guidebook

The ITU Digital Skills Assessment Guidebook has been designed to serve as a comprehensive, practical step-by-step tool for national digital skills assessments. The guidebook can be used to determine the existing supply of a digitally skilled cohort at a national level, to assess skills demand from industry and other sectors, to identify skills gaps, and to develop policies to address future digital skills requirements. It is designed for use by policy-makers and other stakeholders, such as partners in the private sector, non-governmental organizations, and academia.

Source: ITU Digital Skills Assessment Guidebook