Skip to main content
How The Digital Divide Affects Women

How The Digital Divide Affects Women


Share On Facebook
Share On Twitter
Share On Pinterest
Share On LinkedIn

About This Lesson

In today’s world, not having access to the Internet, a cell phone, and other key tech tools is a huge disadvantage. The world is becoming increasingly digital, especially since the COVID-19 pandemic began and lockdowns caused most offices and schools to close temporarily.

The disparity between people who do not have access to modern technology tools and those who do is known as the “digital divide.” Today, a lack of access to technology is causing even more disadvantages for already-vulnerable groups.

Women are among those most likely to be affected by the digital divide. But how is it impacting their lives and what can we do about it?

Women Are Still Less Likely to Have Tech Access 

Globally, many people still do not have access to the internet, especially in developing countries. In these areas of the world, women are 32.9% less likely than men to have Internet access than men and may be less likely to have a cell phone.

Unfortunately, this disparity holds women back from educational and economic opportunities. It limits their options and may make it difficult for them to gain independence.

In developed countries, the disparity can be seen in the very small numbers of women who enroll in computer science programs in college (just 4% among computer science freshmen). This is not for lack of interest—studies show that young girls are very interested in these subjects, but are not encouraged to pursue STEM careers and often face discrimination in the job market.

“Simple things like parents, family members and teachers not thinking to suggest that girls play around with technology projects like building computers, or not encouraging girls to take courses in computer science, have had a tremendous impact cumulatively on whether or not a young girls imagines that she could do a career in technology.” Says Dr. Rebecca Dohrman, associate professor in the online communications program at Maryville University.

In COVID Times, Lack of Tech Equals Lack of Opportunity to Advance 

During the COVID-19 pandemic, people who were able to work from home were told to do so. Virtual meetings and other online work activities require good and reliable Internet access. Unfortunately, women without access to reliable tech have been working in jobs that put them at risk and force them to work outside the home.

Worse, the world has become so reliant on the Internet during the pandemic that it has caused a new opportunity gap, making it very difficult for women to advance in their careers. Some women who may have had Internet access before the pandemic by visiting the library or using friends’ computers have fewer options than ever. Simultaneously Internet access is required for many everyday activities to reduce contact and virus transmission.

How the Digital Divide Affects Mothers

The digital divide has been affecting some families particularly badly during the COVID-19 pandemic, especially when it comes to childcare and school. Women who do not have access to technology may struggle to support their families because they cannot work online and do not have access to childcare.

Many women have left the workforce to care for their children, while others are juggling additional responsibilities and trying to manage their time and resources so their children can get an education and not go hungry. Time management can only get you so far when you’re trying to balance a demanding work schedule, childcare, and at-home schoolwork.

“Remote work has many benefits for people who are engaged in caregiving of children and adults” adds Dr. Dohrman. “The digital divide closes off opportunities that provide more flexibility which can make last-minute childcare interruptions or caregiving challenges like half-days of school or midday events that parents may want to attend for their child (such as a choir performance at an assembly or a class party).”

On a surface level, not having constant Internet access might seem like a relatively minor problem. But when you see how it affects women’s ability to work, take care of children, and ensure that their children get a good education, the digital divide gets much more sinister.

How to Help Solve the Digital Divide Conundrum 

Digital literacy and access are an absolute must in our modern world. Over 90% of jobs already require some digital skills, and that number will only grow in the coming years. The time to act is now.

It is essential that we work together to get technology into the hands of those who need it the most. For women and girls, getting access to technology and learning how to use it can be powerful, helping them to gain new skills and opportunities.

To solve the digital divide and empower women, it isn’t enough to provide access to digital tools. It’s important to train and encourage girls and women to use technology, particularly in schools. There are lots of organizations with goals like teaching girls to code and providing microloans for female entrepreneurs.

Addressing the digital divide will require a combination of initiatives, from ensuring that girls have access to technology in schools to improving infrastructure in remote areas of the world. When women thrive, the world benefits.


Write A Review

Be the first to submit a review!