Salomie Lyle-Scott, senior manager, technology consulting at MC Systems, wants more women to consider a career in technology because of the economic benefit that can be derived for households and the country on a whole.
Lyle-Scott noted that women have been behind many IT innovations in Jamaica. She pointed to women such as Lorna Green, founder of Digital Transtec, which specialises in the development of software applications for the aviation and mobile gaming industry; Monique Powell, founder of QuikCart, which focuses on e-commerce and delivery in the food industry; and Kenia Mattis, founder of ListenMi, which produces cultural digital animation and design, have played a major role in changing the IT landscape in Jamaica. She believes there would be even more innovation if more women pursued careers in technology.
“Globally, IT is a US$1.4-trillion industry. With women heading about 46 per cent of households in Jamaica, we must seek careers that are on a growth path to secure the future of our country. At present, women in IT account for less than half of the jobs in the sector, despite being in the majority of students at all our tertiary institutions,” Lyle-Scott noted.
She pointed out that a study by global management consulting firm McKinsey showed that if the number of women in Europe pursuing careers in technology were to double, the continent would see its gross domestic product rising by as much as €600 billion by 2027.
“I believe that the growth would be similar here in Jamaica if more girls entered the sector. Life is not about where we started, but about where we are going. Walking that great path and outperforming ourselves is dependent on the choices that we make, and will require support and people who are more than educators to help with decision- making. We should encourage more girls to enter the field,” she added.
Stacey Hines, founder of Epic Transformation and immediate past president of Jamaica Technology & Digital Alliance, pointed out that more women in IT would result in greater innovation. She said more women pursuing careers in IT would also benefit the economy, because some would enter the industry as tech entrepreneurs and introduce their own innovations.
“Additionally, there is a significant shortage of tech resources in both public- and private-sector organisations. By having more women pursue certifications, short courses or degrees in technology and technology-related fields, we can begin to fill those gaps, which would also improve our employment numbers,” she added.
A report from the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), titled Gender equality and women’s and girls’ autonomy in the digital era: contributions of education and digital transformation in Latin America and the Caribbean (2023), adds that women accounted for just 18 per cent of degrees pursued in IT up to 2019. It notes that more needed to be done to prioritise more women pursuing careers in the sector.
Lyle-Scott added that one way to ensure more girls enter the profession, which will in turn benefit the economy, is to treat IT as a mandatory discipline, similar to mathematics and English language. She added that this would demystify the field and encourage more girls to pursue studies in the field.
“We should treat IT in schools similarly to mathematics and English by making it mandatory, since all careers can benefit from information technology. This early introduction among all students widens the surface area for girls to know that IT is not too much for them and hopefully discover that this is their calling. Outside of that romance-like relationship with IT, early education in the field will draw their attention to the many careers in the industry,” she opined.
“Also, having more women in the industry promotes diversity. Having diversity in the workplace ensures wholesome, innovative outputs because the ideas will come from multiple perspectives. This will also create more balanced and healthier teams, which will have a positive economic effect,” she added.