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Open House - Girls in ICT Day 2014

13 - 19 Harbour Street

April 29, 2014 - SUPPORT for girls and young women to be more involved in the information, communications and technologies (ICT) sector, is gaining traction, with Jamaica now among the growing number of countries which observe International Girls in ICT day each year.

International Girls in ICT Day — supported by the United Nation's International Telecommunication Union (ITU) member states, under Plenipotentiary Resolution 70 (Guadalajara, 2010) — is observed annually on the fourth Thursday in April.

The purpose of the day is to create a global environment to empower and encourage girls and young women to consider careers in the rapidly growing field of ICT.

Chief Technical Director for the ICT Division in the Ministry of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining Wahkeen Murray said the sector is dominated by males, giving the perception that girls are afraid of the sciences or find them particularly difficult.

"...So there's an emphasis being placed on girls in ICT, certainly from the ITU perspective. The message being communicated is that ICT is not a gender specific field or industry. The aim is to encourage governments in the region and across the world to focus more on women in ICT and how they can encourage greater involvement of girls in the field of ICT," she told JIS News.

The Spectrum Management Authority (SMA) and telecommunications company, LIME, are two of the entities that have supported the day by allowing students to observe their operations.

The SMA last year hosted an open house at its corporate offices on Harbour Street in downtown Kingston, where it accommodated young women from the University of the West Indies and the University of Technology, who were engineering majors or considering a career in that field.

The SMA's manager for operating systems and special project, Judith Marshall Anderson, said the students had the opportunity to meet with members of the organisation's engineering team, and allowed them to discover more about ICT and telecommunications engineering. This year the SMA again hosted students to observe their ICT engineering operations.

"We told them about our organisation, had a female engineer tell them about her experiences in the business, what they can expect and how to advance their careers. We then took them to one of our monitoring sites where they were exposed further to the practical side of ICT engineering," she said.

Marshall Anderson pointed out that students are usually appreciative of the experience and the interaction and the authority would, therefore, continue to engage them.

"What we plan to do is aim at younger girls [in high school] because some of the comments we've gotten from the university girls is that they weren't exposed earlier and didn't know there was a career in engineering in ICT. So we are thinking it would be good to have high school students so we can open their horizons,"

Marshall Anderson said.

In 2012, LIME participated in the event by raising awareness about the remarkable strides women and girls have been making in the ICT sector.

Women in ICT were interviewed to showcase the level and value of their input in the ICT sector at the high end and the recognition underscored the importance of mentoring girls about the various career opportunities available in the ICT industry, while showcasing their technical talent.

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