Closing Digital Gender Gap in Nigeria

Digital Transformation the rave of the moment is transforming the way of life and challenging how we do things across all industries be it Financial, Logistics, Software, Retail or Medical. Digital transformation is not just about embracing new technology, it is about a change in thought and organization culture.

While the disruption is immense, so is the opportunity it presents such as ease of financial transaction, quick access to information, business growth, employment and significant contributions to the global economy.

In the UK, with my experience as an IT professional, 80% of the programme’s being rolled out has a high degree of digital transformation and any industry that does not follow this trend risk the fall out of being left behind in the competitive market. The digital market is currently experiencing a high growth, where technology has become the driving factor for businesses from digital marketing to digital banking and more.

Today over 50% of the world is online and using one technology or the other to transmit information. With that said, is also worth noting that technology companies are taking advantage of this churns of information being transmitted by homing in on the following key factors; Innovative Technology, consumer customer behavior and market demand, and environmental factors to bring in productive changes and deliver value.

In the 21st century the digital change cuts across all facets of society and its value cannot be matched, offering more interaction with people, the skill required to get a good job, and even in the political terrain. In Nigeria, alone technology market is worth over several billion. The growing digital market has the potential of becoming the cornerstone of our economy to generate billions and helping to create job opportunities and improve people’s lifestyle.

Given the disruptions of digital transformation, it is therefore unexpected that there exist gender gaps within the digital industry worldwide and even more so in Africa. For women in developing countries, they experience barriers such as cost, network coverage, security and cyberbullying, trust and technical literacy all these contribute to the fact that women in developing countries are nearly 25% less likely to be online than men which inhibit their ability to fully connect to their world and communities.

In Africa, it is however noted that there are still fewer women seating on high flying roles and positions in this industry and this must change to include more women as their empowerment is crucial to inclusive sustainable economic growth and development.  With Nigeria’s growing youth population and increasing competition for jobs and other opportunities, addressing these issues is imperative to promote women’s employability and financial independence.

Through closing the digital gender gap, women can help pull their families out of extreme poverty and serve as active participants and leaders in their societies. They can have a voice, support the UN initiative to achieve the gender equality and empowerment.

Also, PWC report present findings why females aren’t considering digital careers; one of the factors raised was they aren’t given enough information on what working in the sector involves, another factor is lack of female role models in reinforcing the perception that a digital career even though at present is male-dominated it proffers room for women as well.

Therefore there is strong need to close this digital gender gap and reduce potential loss of talent by this group of under-represented  individual and this can only be achieved by encouraging and supporting greater female participation at all levels including running campaigns with the help of organisations, government and NGOs’ who all have an important role to play to create awareness and incentive to get more women into this booming digital industry; for those women already in this industry we need to encourage them to take advantage of their knowledge and skills acquired from the industry to seek top roles and positions.

Perhaps we are at the beginnings of an evolutionary curve where women are beginning to become aware of the opportunities and are now aspiring to be take up digital roles, with education, more industry practicing successful women mentors and awareness including changing their perception will begin to have an effect.

For those women, yet to get into this industry the path may vary from young undergraduates to career changers, the competition might be intense but the journey is interesting. Some of the possible roles they can get engaged in are Digital Marketing experts, Web developer, Business Analyst, Data analytics consultant, Project Manager Etc.

For entrepreneur’s budding or established the gender bias should not create a barrier between their vision and business, there are also opportunities to move their business up another level by adopting Digital transformation and one example that is also disrupting all sectors be it Retail, Logistics, Financial Services, Education, Fashion to name a few is to develop Mobile Applications (mobile App) this technology is deployed over mobile phones and the positive news is that majority of the populations in Nigeria now possess one.

From research in Nigeria there is the opportunity in Payment Processing for developing app such as crowdfunding, payment processing with one of the latest digital inventions that also has a business return for investor’s digital currency called “Bitcoin”, it is virtual or cryptocurrency.

The opportunities that digital transformation presents lends huge benefits for all and women and it is imperative that organizations, policy makers, operators and public sectors work together to create enabling environment which will be the catalyst for business growth and in turn, lead to employment creation and subsequently a robust and growing global economy.

Some opportunities that can be explored are listed below;

  • Customer Demands:  Providing delightful customer experience in every aspect of the delivery chain. This can be achieved by introducing loyalty cards
  • Process Orientation: Process digitization and employee enablement that promotes data-driven decision-making resulting in greater performance improvement and overall operational transparency.
  • Innovation in Business: New digital products and/or digitizing existing business models that go beyond existing business needs and foster new innovative products and service and cater to changing business needs.

Nigeria, a developing economy predominantly male-dominated environment should as part of the recovery path to success embrace digital transformation with the focus on addressing the gender gap by supporting initiatives that are set up for this cause.

Possible Resolutions initiatives to be supported with complete mindset change is a good place to start;

  • Undertake Job Analysis: Tailored job descriptions, and ensure its gender balanced;
  • Formal succession planning, sponsoring, mentor programmes, unconscious-bias training and gender-specific training;
  • Returnships (return-to-work internships) and phase-back programmes to fill the talent pipelines, particularly at management levels
  • Awareness and outreach programmes to equip young girls and women with the skills and inspiration needed to pursue a career in STEM

Footnote

Crystal Options Forte a consulting company whose key expertise is in delivering digital transformation. We will provide the experience, business and technical solutions including training. In the UK, we are currently running a campaign to reduce if not close the gap in digital gender, and the same principle with apply in Nigeria, the programme is already in inception using our platform Business and Career Network.

 

References:

https://www.forbes.com/sites/brianrashid/2017/06/13/digital-transformation-and-innovation-in-todays-business-world/#919190449052

https://www.usaid.gov/sites/default/files/closing_the_digital_gender_gap.pdf

https://www.pwc.co.uk/who-we-are/women-in-technology/time-to-close-the-gender-gap.html

http://www.itu.int/en/itunews/Documents/2016-04/2016_ITUNews04-en.pdf

 

 

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