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A recent study had disclosed that the gender ratio in Information and Communications Technology or ICT as it is referred to, was proven to be in favour of males. Though the general impression may be that more girls are entering the field, it is still a long way to go. Keeping this in view, a worldwide campaign has been launched to encourage more girls to take up ICT as a career option. Closer home, the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) is supporting an initiative in this direction and different events are being organised to highlight the issue.
A Caribbean Hackathon to Mark International Girls in ICT Day
Five Caribbean countries -Jamaica, Grenada, Trinidad and Tobago, St Vincent and the Grenadines, and Barbados, are sending teams of girls from schools and colleges to take part in this major ICT event to be held in Jamaica. Jamaica will be represented by 300 girls. Ms. Bridget Lewis and Ms. Nicole Pitter Patterson, co-founders of SheLeadsIT are the organisers of this Hackathon. Restore a Sense of I Can (RSC) Tech Clubs involved in the conduct of the event this year as well.
A two-month long programme was already conducted earlier in which online training, interaction with experts and others were taken up. Other specific areas chosen were gender-based violence, climate change, and Resilience.
A Contest with Prizes and Awards
The Hackathon would be a timed contest where the skills the girls learnt would be put to test and if they come out successful, there will be rewards. These could include cash prizes and gifts in the form of gadgets. Some lucky students may bag internships or scholarships to further enhance their IT skills. The Jamaican girls participating in the event appeared quite excited and are confident of doing well. The organisers have managed to rope in Scotiabank and NCB as sponsors, as well as First Caribbean International Bank, Loop News, and Production Partner – Phase 3.
These initiatives should augur well for the young girls of Jamaica since it opens up another avenue for them to pursue their life’s ambitions. If they are provided with the right kinds of training and career guidance, there is nothing to stop them from matching the boys in any field. The Jamaican government too could step in and setup more institutes to teach the basics in computing technology and encourage more girls to take part.