Women in Tech

More Girls in ICT: The Internet Society Signs MoU with the Mexican Government

Women and girls are significantly less likely to choose ICT (Information and Communication Technology) studies than men. There are many reasons for this. Barriers to access, but also retention in ICT studies are complex as they are often related not only to economic but also to social and cultural barriers.

A lot of initiatives are being developed worldwide to break these barriers, and at the Internet Society we believe that only if we join efforts we can overcome them and help to close the digital gender gap.

For this reason, on July 19, the Internet Society and the Secretariat of Communications and Transport of the Mexican government signed a cooperation agreement to support the “Women in STEM, Future Leaders” project.

In Mexico only 35.5% of tertiary graduates in ICT are women. The initiative aims to change these numbers. It provides training and support to young women from public high schools with the purpose of encouraging them to pursue a career in science and ICT.

The program, launched at the beginning of 2018 in coordination with the U.S.-Mexico Foundation, has already reached more than 180 girls from all over the country. It is working closely with 32 Mexican Connected Points (Puntos Mexico Conectados), which are centers that provide Internet access and training to students.

“We are happy to see Mexico taking actions towards digital gender equality. Internet Society Mexico Chapter is honored to contribute to this agreement and to continue enhancing the actions of the Mexico Connected Points. Our members are committed to share their experience and knowledge with young generations by participating in events that promote the access and use of the Internet,” said Luis Martinez, Chair of the Internet Society Mexico Chapter.

With this partnership, Internet Society will support the initiative by enabling more girls from rural areas to join the program. Participants will have a mentor who will guide them into the ICT field and provide advice and support throughout the program.

At the Internet Society, we believe that the importance of role models for girls and women cannot be underestimated. By identifying women leaders and connecting them with girls, we are sending a message that women are capable leaders who can make a difference.

As Angélica Conteras, member of the ISOC’s Mexico Chapter and chair of Special Interest Group for Women, highlighted:

“As part of the Internet community, we need to share what we have learned with other girls and women, guide them, inspire them and, above all, support their path in ICT as this is not an easy one. Most girls and women have to face inequalities and stereotypes along this path. The agreement signed by the Internet Society is a wonderful opportunity to get involved as a community and support the new generations.”

We look forward to working with the Mexican government to help bridge the digital gender divide!

Help us close the digital gender divide. Join the SIG Women

The Internet Society is proud to be a partner of EQUALS: The Global Partnership for Gender Equality in the Digital Age.

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How the Internet changed the Nyirarukobwa Primary School

Sarah is 11 years old and goes to school in the Nyirarukobwa Primary School, together with about 1400 other kids.

She tells me that she joined this school this year because it has a very high success rate for the National Exam. Sarah said to me, “I want to go to boarding School,” which is what will happen when she passes the exam and goes to secondary school.

She is one of the 700 plus children who joined the Nyirarukobwa School over the last 3 years (yes the number of kids just doubled!!) because of its high exam success rate.

Wonder why?

Apart from a very dynamic and forward thinking school principal and very passionate teachers, the school received a grant through the Internet Society Grants programme in 2013 to get the school connected to the Internet and to get some computers and printers to train the teachers and teach computer classes to the children.

Robert Birushyabagabo (right), a member of the teaching staff, addressing an Internet Society delegation at Nyirarukobwa Primary School in the Eastern Provice of Rwanda on 11 May 2017. Birushyabagabo teaches ICT and maintains the school’s computers, which were donated by the Internet Society.

For three years the school managed to not only give computer classes to the students but the teachers also actively used the computers to prepare their classes, the exams, assignments, revisions etc.

Without printed assignments and tests the main knowledge transfer happens through the use of a massive blackboard and a lot of memorising and repeating.

Joyce Dogniez, Senior Director for Global Engagement at the Internet Society, with a teacher during a visit by an Internet Society delegation to Nyirarukobwa Primary School in the Eastern Provice of Rwanda on 11 May 2017.

The school says it helped.

But with success comes challenges.  Now there is not enough space for all the children, so they split the classes in morning classes and afternoon classes and move the computers into the principals office (they needed the computer class to accommodate for classrooms).

Robert Birushyabagabo, pictured on on 11 May 2017, teaches ICT and maintains the computers at Nyirarukobwa Primary School in the Eastern Provice of Rwanda. Overcrowding at the school resulted in the computer lab having to be converted to the classroom, and the computers are now in a cramped space that was formerly the headmaster’s office. The room is too small to use for teaching, so ICT lessons had to be stopped.

And sadly, as the grant funding ran out, they ran out of funding for the Internet connectivity.

Our local Chapter, the Rwanda Chapter is working with the school to identify options to restore the connectivity and plan for a sustainable long term solution.

This story of one school really shows the impact ICTs have on the quality of education, it shows that if we want to achieve the goals we set ourselves through the UN Sustainable Development Goals to ensure Inclusive and Quality Education (SDG4) we need to push for the use of ICTs and more particularly the use of the Internet.

This is also why broader Internet and Education policy plans are necessary.

The Internet Society launched a paper on Internet for Education in Africa last week in Kigali during the first African Regional Internet and Development Dialogue providing an overview of the impact of the Internet on education in Africa but also providing a score card for policy makers.

Together, let’s make sure that all the Sarah’s of the world get access to quality education by 2030!

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