Digital exclusion can exacerbate existing inequalities by hindering people’s access to education, job application processes, healthcare, and financial planning tools. According to the Deloitte report, 2023, women are 14-22% more likely to be in Digital Poverty than men. This may lead to a self-perpetuating cycle of poverty and lack of access to knowledge and skills that would enable women to combat these issues.

Charlotte Walshe, In Kind Direct, highlighted that this lack of access to knowledge and healthcare professionals also feeds into the state of period equity. Nearly 4 out of 5 people who learnt about periods in school needing to learn more since leaving education (published in this new report by In Kind Direct), meaning those with less access to the internet, or the skills to search for information being left behind, and potentially missing work or suffering healthcare issues due to lack of knowledge.

Globally, men are 21% more likely to be online than women, according to the World Bank, and research by UNICEF suggests that even if they are online, women are less likely to have advanced digital skills to contribute in the workplace. Speaking to Yulia, a student at St Mary’s Ukrainian School in London, she said:

“Girls might not engage with digital learning due to limited access to technology or the internet, because of a lack of confidence in their abilities, or due to societal expectations and stereotypes. Girls may face pressure to confirm to traditional gender roles, which can impact their interest in, and engagement with digital learning. It’s important to address these barriers and create inclusive environments that empower everyone to develop their skills.”

Role models can serve as a source of inspiration and guidance for women and girls who are interested in digital learning and using technical skills. The Ambitious Women in Essex programme provides community, events and support for women in business, and means that women can share knowledge and mentor each other throughout their careers. Support for girls from a young age to pursue more technical and digital interests can be life changing.

“Seeing more women in leadership positions, breaking barriers in traditionally male-dominated fields, and advocating for change gives me hope.” 

Yulia

18 years old

“We should make it easier for girls to get interested in technology jobs. If we show them it can be fun and important, more will want to learn and work in this area. And for women who already work with technology, we should help them get even better and have special events for them to learn more.”

Arina

18 years old

We spoke with Elizabeth Anderson, CEO of the Digital Poverty Alliance; Eve Calderbank and Jess Flack, Essex County Council; and Victoria, student at St Mary’s Ukrainian School to ask for their insight into why it’s so important to tackle the gender divide within digital skills learning, and what gives them hope for the future of digital inclusion. Watch the videos below:

“Having more connections and devices expands my horizons and enhances my ability to learn, create, and communicate. It’s like having a whole universe of knowledge and experiences at my fingertips, and I find that incredibly exciting and empowering!

What inspires me about technology and the internet is the endless possibilities they offer. It’s amazing how they connect people from all over the world, allowing us to share ideas and learn from one another. The rapid advancements in technology also excite me, as they pave the way for innovation and problem-solving. Lastly, the accessibility of information and resources online empowers individuals to pursue their passions and expand their knowledge. It’s truly a fascinating and ever-evolving world!”

Yulia

18 years old

It’s incredibly important to support girls to develop digital skills from a young age, as these will help support their aspirations as they grow. And it’s equally as important to ensure that women of all ages can develop skills and have the devices and opportunities to use the internet later in life to look after their finances, manage healthcare, engage in society, apply for jobs, and find communities of interest to them. Around 90% of jobs are solely advertised on the internet, and without the ability to get online, women risk being unable to apply for as aspirational roles, and society suffers without their contributions. Ending digital poverty is a key tool in closing the gender divide.”

Elizabeth Anderson

CEO of the Digital Poverty Alliance

Immy Black, External Affairs Co-ordinator