By Subul Naqvi

The norms of gender diversity in corporate cultures are evolving quite rapidly these days. Globally, professional roles that were once associated to particular genders are now being taken up by both men and women.

One sector that is witnessing this transformation more than others is technology. It has become quite evident in the last few years and then further stressed by the COVID-19 pandemic that sustainable economies and societies have to be technically-adept.

The percentage of women as part of the total global population today stands at 49.5%. Given their almost equal share of the global headcount, it is difficult to plan, create and implement stable economic systems without allowing the female to segment a more diverse set of roles. The fields of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) require active participation from women in roles that have long been associated to men only.

 In order to raise awareness and encourage efforts towards bringing more women to these fields and accelerating advances in tools like artificial intelligence and numerous other modern sciences, the International Day of Girls in ICT is celebrated every year. This annual moment of commemoration promotes a theme each time and in 2021, the official motto is ‘Connected Girls, Creating Brighter Futures.”

The International Day for Girls in ICT underlines the notion and the need for implementation of various strategies and plans which can bring more women to industries associated with STEM. There is an emerging need for us as stakeholders to spread the word about the gender divide that exists in workspaces today, the lack of technology education and skills training especially for women, and more importantly about encouraging women to take up more diverse as well as advanced roles.

In Pakistan, the gender gap in professional settings is quite extensive. Even though the overall participation of women in this country’s workforce stands at less than 30%, their contributions in sectors associated with STEM is even lower. According to a report from the World Economic Forum, only 4.9% of the engineering jobs in this country are held by women. This ratio is 3% in the energy sector and a dismal 2.2% in Artificial Intelligence .

Given the current scenarios, Pakistan requires comprehensive efforts across the board to bring change where it is needed the most. Women face a lot of challenges in Pakistan’s IT sector such as limited opportunities, pay gap and stereotypes that haunt our society. However, in recent months, attitudes are beginning to change both amongst the relevant authorities and more importantly amongst women.

Various notable organizations nowadays are bringing more women onboard not just in conventional fields like HR or marketing but in more unorthodox places like software engineering and product development. Telenor Microfinance Bank, is one such organization that has women working not just as team members but in leading roles as well facilitating the company’s various IT related functions.

Telenor Microfinance Bank has always been at the forefront of driving innovation in the field of fintech and as one of Pakistan’s premier provider of digital financial solutions, the enterprise understands how crucial women are in the bigger picture. The Bank is providing opportunities to women in building a career in the ICT field and is playing a major role in transforming Pakistan into a cashless and financially inclusive society through power of collaboration and technology where women have an integral role.

As more organizations begin to follow and implement the approach of nurturing women towards pursuing distinct fields like data analytics, software development, app design and a lot more besides, we can truly progress towards building state-of-the-art societies for the future.

Authors: Subul Naqvi, Head of Corporate Communications,Telenor Microfinance Bank / Easypaisa