Technology is a tool to make life easier. But having access to it is another story – especially for girls and women. According to Kate Heuisler, chief of party of USAID’s Development Innovations project (DI), in 2016 UN ESCAP found that only 7-8 percent of computer science students at key universities were women.
DI did a small-scale study last year about the key barriers girls and women face in pursuing tech studies and careers in Cambodia. The survey cited three key barriers: lack of role models, lack of mentors, and shortage of opportunities to explore practical tech education opportunities.
In an interview with Youth Today, Kate Heuisler said, “DI wants to ensure that Cambodians who want to get access to tech learning opportunities have many accessible pathways to learn. We believe it is important to balance your time learning new things related to technology, and studying for your school subjects and doing things offline.”
As the old barriers have already been recognised and overcome, now girls and women are fully encouraged to study information technology and computer science to advance their lives professionally and personally.
Several programmes have been implemented so everyone can start learning about new technologies easily and quickly.
Kate Heuisler lists down some of special tools and programmes that can help young people start learning about new technologies:
IAmRachana Facebook and Twitter: Rachana is a “virtual ambassador” and a digital champion for young girls in tech. Through social media, she encourages and inspire kids and teens to participate in tech-related activities and learning programs so they can see pathways to be tech creators. Anyone can learn to code with her through the #Learn2codewithRachana campaign. She also shares information about books she likes to read though the #RachanaReadingList hashtag. With technology subjects, it is important that you are always learning and reading, because new products and technological advancements happen every day. Check out Rachana’s Facebook page or Twitter feed for more information.
Technovation Cambodia: This is a global technology entrepreneurship program for girls ages 10-18. Girls across the world can sign up online and form a team. Technovation Cambodia has educated more than 600 girls across the country to date.
Coding Cats: Saturday Kids and Raintree are currently adapting a project-based coding class curriculum from Singapore for use in Cambodia.
Sisters of Code: All-girl coding program run by IT Academy Step.
Blog: You can also read blog posts about learning how to code, with online resources as well as in-person training courses, written by DI project manager Chandy Mao in DI’s website: development-innovations.org.
There are more tools and software available online in today’s trend both in Khmer and English versions – if you’re only determined and passionate to learn about technological advancements and how you can create one.
Girls and women can start learning technology lessons on their fingertip on their smartphone and other devices. Currently, technology lessons are made available to even young girls from age six and even old women.
“Once young people have some basic skills related to innovation processes, design and the use of ICTs, they have basic skills to start being tech creators! It is important that more Cambodians have skills to design and define the solutions of the future,” Kate said.