In today’s world, digital technology is encompassing increasing swathes of everyday and especially economic life, with knowledge of programming a valuable asset in the job market. According to the World Economic Forum, an estimated 90 per cent of jobs will soon require ICT skills. But as of 2016, globally, only 25 per cent of all computing jobs were held by women.
“In a few years, the IT sector in our country might look different if we offer equal opportunities and convince girls and women that they can do this job, can show their creativity and can have good IT careers,” says Ana Chirita, Executive Director of the Moldovan Association of ICT Companies. “We want as many women and girls as possible to embrace an IT career.”
It’s therefore no surprise that the Moldovan Association of ICT Companies is at the forefront of efforts to empower women and girls in IT. With the support of UN Women and funding from Sweden under the ‘Empowering Women in Technology’ Project, the association has launched a comprehensive IT empowerment programme for women and girls.
In the first edition of the programme, 50 girls and women from Moldova benefited from scholarships to study Java Fundamentals, SQL Fundamentals or Cisco, obtaining international certification at the end of their course.
The courses were based on the educational programmes of the world leader Oracle, and the training included state-of-the-art technologies, innovative learning methods and techniques with a proven impact in developing the skills and competencies required by the IT industry.
The programme trains young women for ICT careers as front-end developers and technology creators. The online courses offered through the programme have been particularly useful, as the participants can learn tech skills from their homes or any other location and at their own pace, without having to travel for a class at a specific place and time.
Irina Iurciuc is now 24 years old and is a Junior Software Developer at an international company. But it was a long path of knowledge and learning before she reached this stage.
“From high school I knew that I would choose a career in IT. At the time, however, I didn’t realise the specifics of the sphere. Later, I attended the Faculty of Computers, Informatics and Microelectronics at TUM, and during my maternity leave I won a scholarship on the IT for women programme. Before applying, I analysed several job offers to understand the requirements of employers. I chose a course in which I learned to acquire practical skills in areas that I knew less and that would help me get a job.”
Irina says it was easy to integrate into the new job, because the stereotypes related to women in IT are a thing of the past. Over time, women have shown that they do as well as men in programming.
“In this field, women have begun to impose their presence and have shown impressive results. Here we work in a team and colleagues help each other, there is no competition, ideas and initiatives are welcome, there are no limits.”
Irina is convinced that IT is the profession of the future and that there will continue to be great challenges in this field.
Ana Chirita of the Association of ICT Companies says the aim of the initiative is to support women in accelerating their IT career, retraining in IT or simply knowing or gaining the necessary knowledge, which could help them find a job. “In the first edition of this programme, the beneficiaries were women who really needed the skills studied, and many of them were mothers with small children at home who time to participate in the programme. These scholarships gave them the chance for financial independence and the opportunity to get a better job.”
“Ensuring gender equality and empowering women is the core mandate of UN Women. And that’s because gender inequalities are still present in our daily lives. Looking at the situation in the labour market, one can see that the most underpaid jobs are predominantly ‘feminised’, women’s salaries being lower than men’s by about 13–14 per cent,” says Lucretia Ciurea, Monitoring and Evaluation Officer at UN Women in Moldova. “To reduce these imbalances, we have identified, together with girls, women and the development partners, the IT sector as an area of untapped opportunities for women. We are confident that once women get engaged in this sector, the whole society will benefit.”