Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Bridging the Digital Gender Divide

May 17th is the World Telecommunication and Information Society Day (WTISD)It marks the anniversary of the signing of the first International Telegraph Convention and the creation of the International Telecommunication Union in 1865. The day focuses on the possibilities that the use of Internet and other information and communication technologies (ICT) can bring to societies and economies, as well as of ways to bridge the digital divide. One of the major digital divides is between men and women.

It is a fact that the IT revolution has brought more and more women into the organized sector. What is significant is that many of them are employed in BPOs and KPOs which are unconventional in their work culture demanding night shifts, performance targets, long hours etc. The industry responded to the influx of women by trying to make the work environment women friendly. However, every now and then we hear about women BPO workers being raped and murdered by the taxi drivers, sexual harrassment at workplace etc.

A recent study titled "Empowering the Women" conducted by Associated Chamber of Commerce and Industry of India (Assocham)looked into the work satisfaction levels of women in public sector and in the BPO sector. The study concluded that women found greater work satisfaction in the public sector employment which provided them reasonable remuneration, job security and convenient working hours.

A similar study with men may also come to the same conclusion considering the fact that job-security, less stressful, less competitive environments are preferred by many. However, since this study is about women there is a tendency to see it as a gender issue - leading to the conclusion that women are incapable of working hard shifts and be competitive. We should remember that the issue is not one of capability - women are as efficient and successful as men upto a certain level in this sector. However, one cannot deny the existence of the glass ceiling when it comes to reaching the senior management/CEO levels. There is also tardiness in putting systems in place - be it safe housing, safe transport or redressal mechanisms for sexual harrassment in workplaces.

Social factors like double burden of working women, inability of couples and families to redefine gender roles to allow men to take up household chores etc. also influence the way women percieve the suitability of employment in a particular sector.

There was a report sometime back that the demand for brides working in the IT sector had increased during the slump. Many young men prefer a working wife to tide over in case of loosing the job. Infact, women are less likely to change jobs and are thus better employees than men especially when the economy is in recession.

While IT is providing more employment opportunities and increasing access of women to more information, services and institutions it is equally important to address the gender issues at home and in the workplaces to ensure that the digital divide as well as the gender divide is closed.


  1. I couldn't agree with you more - it is the gender issues at home that need to be addressed - I am sure that would make a dent in the workplace too.

  2. ब्लाग के लिए बधाई। बहुत महत्वपूर्ण मुद्दा उठाया है आपने। जारी रहे। ब्लागिंग के जरिए ये बहस आगे बढेगी, उम्मीद करती हूं।


  3. Thanks for your response, keep giving me your feed back.