Leveling Access to Information Technology Training

    These days, you often hear talk about the relative lack of women in information technology training and IT careers. This blog has previously discussed some of the initiatives that have been created to promote more gender equality in the field. But if, like us, you’re located in the United States, you probably tend to hear these discussions applied to places where there is abundant access to information technology training. California, for instance.

    But of course gender disparities are a problem, and often a much more serious problem, in distant labor markets, including those in African countries where the differences between haves and have-nots can be particularly staggering. If you’re concerned about the topic, you’ll be interested to know that there are certainly initiatives that have been put into effect in those areas as well, to give young women the information technology training that they need in order to escape from often desperate situations of deprivation and social neglect.

    One of these, an information technology training program called AkiraChix, was the subject of an interesting profile piece that appeared at GhanaWeb recently. On one hand, the article is a wonderful human interest story, pointing to the fortuitous meeting between four young Nairobi women who had recently benefited from existing IT education programs and who shared a passion for expanding that availability to more girls in Kenya and beyond.

    On the other hand, the article is also fodder for important brainstorming about problems of access to career training, and how programs that include online information technology training can help to address these. Gender is a particularly visible disparity throughout the world when it comes to lucrative fields like IT. But the accompanying difficulty that young women might face in accessing the relevant training is only part of a much larger picture that affects both girls and boys.

    The AkiraChix profile touches upon problems of poverty and geography, as well, noting that the given information technology training program had been set up close to Africa’s biggest slum, to serve the needs of some of its denizens. But keen readers might look at this and wonder about who is still being left behind, because their poverty or social marginalization is not of an urban kind.

    Programs like AkiraChix go a long way toward leveling the playing field, but if our intentions are to give the greatest possible opportunities to the greatest number of people throughout the world, very broad-based effort will be needed to supplement these programs, to multiply them, and to help them grow.

    Online information technology training will have a great role to play in that larger project. While the founders of AkiraChix might have been the beneficiaries of campus-based education, it is not difficult to imagine similarly driven girls lacking access to such programs but still learning what they needed via online tools, perhaps even provided by an online information technology training consultancy in California, on the other side of the world.

    What’s more, the benefits of these sorts of tools are not rendered irrelevant by the previous accomplishments of AkiraChix’ founders or its graduates. If a foreign-based online IT training consultancy can expand both the geographic reach and the educational content of local IT training, the recipients of that training will be steadily more capable of helping one another to mutually build and utilize their skills.