Highlighted Selections from:

Women and Gender in ICT Statistics and Indicators for Development


Hafkin, Nancy J. and Sophia Huyer. “Women and Gender in ICT Statistics and Indicators for Development.” Information Technologies and International Development 4.2 (2007): 1–17. Print.

p.1: Issues related to the gender digital divide have been prominent in discussions of the information society. However, the paucity of statistical data on the subject makes it difficult, if not impossible, to make the case for the inclusion of gender issues in ICT policies, plans, and strategies to policymakers, particularly those in developing countries. This paper surveys available gender ICT statistics and indicators and makes recommendations for filling the gaps that exist. Few gender ICT statistics are available because many governments do not collect ICT statistics consistently and regularly, and rarely are the data disaggregated by sex. The best practices are generally found in developed countries, with most developing countries lagging behind. Recent work that sheds light on women, gender, and the information society includes a major six-country study on the gender digital divide in francophone countries of West Africa and Orbicom’s 2005 research on women in the information society. Although major composite ICT indices do not publish gender and ICT statistics, the potential remains for them to do so, and some indices encourage others to enrich their work with gender data. -- Highlighted apr 5, 2014

p.1: Collecting and analyzing data on how ICTs impact men and women differently are a necessary prerequisite to achieving a globally equitable information society. Without this information, more than 50% of the world’s population may be overlooked. -- Highlighted apr 5, 2014

p.2: The Measuring the Digital Divide project put it succinctly: “Comprehensive ICT data with a gender dimension across a large number of countries do not currently exist” (Huyer, Hafkin, Ertl, & Dryburgh, 2005, p. 137). WSIS recognized this gap and recommended the following corrective action:

Gender-specific indicators on ICT use and needs should be developed, and measurable performance indicators should be identified to assess the impact of funded ICT projects on the lives of women and girls. (WSIS, 2003b)

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p.2: Despite the lack of gender-specific quantitative data, project-level qualitative data have established that ICTs are not gender neutral. ICTs impact men and women differentially, and in almost all cases, women have many disadvantages that result in their having less access to the technology and therefore less use of it. The policy implication of this disparity in information access, especially for developing countries, is that unless special interventions are made, most women will not benefit from the information society to the extent that men do. -- Highlighted apr 5, 2014

p.3: The countries that collect gender ICT statistics are generally those countries where Internet penetration is high and the gender digital divide tends to be the least marked. -- Highlighted apr 5, 2014

p.4: After the index was developed, a report was published comparing the informatization rates of men and women (Republic of Korea, Ministry of Gender Equality, 2001). The findings indicated a serious digital divide by age, with women’s scores on all categories of the index decreasing with age beginning at 20 years old. Moreover, it identified a serious gap in informatization among those women older than 50 years. Not surprisingly, women who earned higher incomes reported a higher informatization rate than those with lower incomes. -- Highlighted apr 5, 2014

p.8: The study made the following recommendations:

  • Universal access strategies should be implemented to enable access to ICTs for adult women in low-income and rural areas. These areas were not covered in the study because of limited ICT availability.
  • To reduce the gender digital divide, ICT policy should move beyond access—where the gender gap was not large—to the areas of decision making, content, and capacity building.
  • Young women should be encouraged to upgrade their computer skills and enroll in advanced computer training.
  • Before gender-equitable ICT policy can be elaborated, tools need to be developed to monitor and evaluate differential impacts of ICT on men and women.

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p.8: in response to calls for work on statistics and indicators on gender and ICT from the Geneva phase of WSIS in 2003, Orbicom added a component on women in the information society. The report notes that while “it is not possible to quantify the gender digital divide in a way comparable to the systematic measurement of countries’ Infostates due to the scarcity of data, both in the scope of coverage and the degree of detail available,” the use of existing quantitative data and qualitative research provides “a compelling analysis of the gender digital divide” -- Highlighted apr 5, 2014

p.8: It provided a macro-level view of its magnitude and evolution and also examined key aspects of the data, particularly access and patterns of use; ICT literacy, education, and skills; ICT-related employment; and the gender digital divide’s relationship with other digital divides. It furthermore contained statistical evidence and analysis of women’s experience in both developed and developing countries in addition to a section that quantified the gender digital divide by constructing a pilot statistical database based on existing pockets of gender ICT data. Problems encountered in the course of the work included a lack of consistent gender statistics in many countries, lack of common definitions and concepts, and a mixture of public and private data sources. -- Highlighted apr 5, 2014

p.8: Other important variables included access options (home, office, or other public access), labor force participation, government policies, and sociocultural norms. It was found that while the gender divide tends to narrow at higher levels of education, a gap remains nevertheless. -- Highlighted apr 5, 2014

p.9: What is not known, though, is the magnitude of this divide, its evolution, and its many nuances -- all are matters of importance for the design, implementation, and evaluation of programs. -- Highlighted apr 5, 2014

p.9: For example, data from Turkey, a country with relatively low computer and Internet use, demonstrate the gender gaps that accompany the introduction of newer ICTs (Figure 2). Women are less likely than men to use these technologies. In many countries such gaps become dramatic, putting women at a significant disadvantage. For instance, less than 10% of the Internet users in Guinea and Djibouti are women, less than 20% in Nepal, and less than 25% in India. While overall penetration in these countries is low, equally large gender gaps were observed in countries with higher Internet penetration: women account for less than 20% of the Internet users in Greece and just more than 25% in Portugal. -- Highlighted apr 5, 2014

p.11: the gender divide cannot simply be expected to improve as overall infostates improve. Clearly, there are factors at play other than those associated with overall infostate development. This is very significant because it provides statistical evidence to support the hypothesis that information technology is not gender neutral. The implication is that the situation of women and ICT will not necessarily improve as infostates grow. Rather, specific actions and interventions will be needed to secure gender equality in the information society. -- Highlighted apr 5, 2014

p.12: To do this, it asked the following questions and tried to answer them using qualitative data:

  • How do sociocultural customs and infrastructural barriers restrict women from ac- cessing and using ICTs?
  • Do women have the education, training, and skills required to function in the information society?
  • How severe are gender disparities in ICT employment? Why do they occur?
  • Are there gendered differences in access to and control over financial resources that affect participation in the information society?
  • What are appropriate media and content for women and girls? Are they available? Do women and men have different communications patterns?
  • What are the gendered patterns of risk to privacy and security brought about by the new ICTs?
  • What is the extent of women’s representation and participation in ICT policy and governance?
  • What is the impact of ICTs on women and girls? Can ICTs contribute to gender equality and women’s empowerment?

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