Information Technology Education for Women in Developing Countries: Benefits, Barriers and Policies

Nancy E. Bertaux, Xavier University - Cincinnati
Adekunle A. Okunoye, Xavier University - Cincinnati
Jamal Abu-Rashed, Xavier University - Cincinnati


Information technology (IT) has been widely acknowledged as an important component in the fight to reduce global poverty; it has also been identified as having the potential to empower women around the world economically, socially and politically.Education, and IT education (ITE) in particular, are prerequisites for achieving higher rates of IT usage. In this paper, the nexus between gender, IT and ITE in the developing world is considered, including analysis of both the potential benefits of ITE, and barriers to women's participation in ITE in these countries. These barriers include literacy, education, language, mobility, location, time, money, skills, and sociocultural practices. Relevant policy initiatives are examined and assessed, including increasing access to IT (both hardware and software), establishment of telecentres, targeted ITE programmes, strategic modification of content in ITE programmes, measures to increase demand for ITE, scholarships for IT and ITE programmes, and increasing female role models.