© AHK Sao Paulo

27.01.2022

Female developers needed: boosting the number of women in the digital economy

Women still account for only a fraction of those employed in the IT sector. But in Latin America and Africa, women are acquiring new skills to launch a career in the tech industry.

The digital sector is growing faster than almost any other branch of industry, giving rise to new jobs and innovative fields of work – including increasingly in emerging economies and developing countries. Until now, however, women have benefited much less than men from opportunities in the tech sector. In global terms, only about one quarter of IT professionals are female.

By targeting training and support measures, the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH is seeking to provide women with better access to the IT sector and digital jobs. On behalf of the German Development Ministry (BMZ), GIZ is working closely with various partners, including the German Chambers of Commerce Abroad (AHKs) in Brazil and Mozambique.

Supported by GIZ experts known as Business Scouts, the AHKs and local non-governmental organisations collaborated with various IT companies to develop an online training programme for women who aspire to a professional career in the digital sector. The comprehensive up to 120-hour e-learning programme not only provides a theoretical introduction to the digital world, it also facilitates initial contact with potential employers. Furthermore, since Portuguese is spoken in both countries, the same materials can be used by all participants.

The programme is suitable for women with no previous digital knowledge, as well as for professionals with a desire to specialise. Demand for the course was huge when the programme was first launched in 2020. With 100 places available, the organisers received a total of 1,000 applications from women aged between 18 and 55. All selected participants completed the course successfully.

New languages, new opportunities

The success of the project has led to its roll-out to other countries and the translation of training materials into Spanish and English. The training measure was launched in Peru and Argentina in 2021; Namibia is soon to be added to the list. As a result, the number of newly trained female IT professionals increased by 92 in Peru and 40 in Argentina.

One of these women was Cristina Escobar from Peru. Already an expert in user-friendly web design, Escobar applied for the continuing professional development programme because she was attracted by the course content: ‘I decided to take part in the programme because the areas covered in the curriculum reflect current trends in the digital industry and are a valuable addition to my professional profile. The course has helped me a great deal personally.’

The programme not only offers graduates the chance to acquire new professional perspectives, it also enables them to play a part in dismantling persistent stereotypes and gender clichés. In order to give even more women the opportunity to build a career in the digital sector, the programme’s second round in Brazil has now expanded capacity to 300 places.