In today’s ever-evolving world, technology stands as a beacon of progress, fostering innovation, economic growth and transformative change. Yet, amidst this dynamic landscape, the crucial role of women in the tech and tech-enabled sectors often remains overshadowed. Recent data from Jordan reveals that women’s participation in the ICT sector is currently at 33 per cent, signalling an untapped wellspring of talent and potential that can substantially benefit companies while promoting their profitability. In this article, I will not only explore the value of greater economic empowerment and participation of women in the tech field, but also empathise with the challenges they face, share examples of initiatives to uplift them and highlight the critical importance of collaborative efforts between stakeholders.

The tech industry, by nature, is an ever-expanding global ecosystem, but it has, for too long, been an arena of male dominance. It is imperative to understand the profound value that women bring to this sector. Diverse teams, including women, bring unique perspectives and empathetic problem-solving skills to the table, resulting in more innovative solutions that truly resonate with the diverse needs of our society. Gender diversity within companies not only enhances their social impact, but also contributes to financial success. A study by McKinsey has demonstrated that companies with diverse leadership teams are 21 per cent more likely to achieve higher profitability. Encouraging more women to join the tech workforce widens the talent pool, providing companies with access to a broader range of skills, ideas and creativity.

Around the world, nations have recognised the pressing need to bolster women’s participation in the tech sector, resulting in the implementation of various impactful initiatives. In Ireland, “Women in Technology and Science” (WITS) plays a pivotal role by offering networking opportunities and mentorship programs to empower women in tech, facilitating their career advancement. WITS actively promotes women in technology and science through informative activities, project completions, events and the publication of books celebrating the accomplishments of STEM women. In India, “Women Who Code” has created a nurturing and empathetic community for female tech professionals, delivering skill-building opportunities, networking events and mentorship programmes to help women thrive in the ever-evolving tech landscape. Meanwhile, in Singapore, “SG Women in Tech” has cultivated a supportive ecosystem for women within the local tech industry, organising events and mentorship programmes that foster networking, learning and professional growth. These initiatives serve as inspiring models of how concerted efforts can break down barriers and empower women to excel in the world of technology.

While progress is undeniable, several formidable barriers continue to hinder women’s participation in the tech industry, often accompanied by the weight of societal expectations. The lack of visible female role models in tech leadership roles can make it difficult for women to envision themselves in these positions, a challenge prevalent in many countries. Outdated stereotypes and biases perpetuate the misconception that tech is solely a male domain, discouraging women from considering tech-related careers. Additionally, the demanding nature of tech roles can pose a challenge for women, especially those who bear family responsibilities, affecting their work-life balance. In specific cases, like Jordan, unfriendly transportation system and the concentration of businesses in the capital city of Amman, which hinders both female workforce participation, play a major role in limiting opportunities for women in tech. This underscores the urgency of breaking down these barriers and creating an inclusive tech ecosystem

Recognising the undeniable importance of women’s participation in the tech sector, The ICT Association of Jordan, int@j has added a “Women in Tech” pillar to its seven pillars and established a Tech Women Economic Empowerment Unit, SHETECHS supported by GIZ, demonstrating a firm industry commitment to promoting women’s participation in the ICT sector at all levels. Collaborative efforts harness the expertise and resources of all stakeholders in this domain such as the Ministry of Digital Economy and Entrepreneurship — MODEE which has also created Tech Women Unit at the Ministry as well as The Jordanian National Commission for Women — JNCW, Ministry of Labor — MOL, and many others including donor agencies, NGOs and private sector companies, allowing for a more holistic and effective approach to empowering women in tech. By working together, these organisations can advocate for policies that encourage inclusion in the tech sector

In addition, supporting tech women-led startups is not only crucial but also a strategic move for fostering innovation and economic growth. These startups bring fresh perspectives and innovative solutions to the market. By providing mentorship, funding opportunities and a supportive ecosystem, we can unleash the potential of these entrepreneurs, leading to the creation of groundbreaking products and services that benefit society as a whole.

Finally, the journey toward women’s economic empowerment and participation in the tech and tech-enabled sectors is one that demands empathy, understanding and collaboration, bolstered by industry commitment. Their unique perspectives, experiences, and empathetic qualities can lead us towards a future of inclusivity and prosperity.

The writer is the chief executive officer of the ICT Association of Jordan — int@j