Increasing girls and women in the digital and ICT sector in Malta
Since 2016, the Maltese National Coalition has worked on a set of initiatives to support women in the ICT sector.
The first activity was to set up a focus group of 20 women. The group included women coming from the ICT sector, digital marketing, and digital entrepreneurs. The group met every quarter to share ideas for projects, provide a space to discuss critical aspects related to women's participation in the digital sector and provide support on specific initiatives.
The National Coalition identified a group of women from industry and education sector, to become ambassadors with the aim of encouraging and inspiring other girls and women. Videos were also produced to be promoted on social media and television.
The focus group also identified the need to create guidelines for local employers in the digital sector to support change in their management style and provide best practices from global initiatives (Guidelines for increasing and retaining women in ICT).
To respond to another need emerging from national stakeholders, a study was carried out to analyse the gender gap in the ICT and telecom sectors, in SMEs and public administration. The study included a survey and various discussion groups to share the results and identify bias, perception, and perceived barriers, including potential activities for the government and policy vision. As an outcome, a roadmap was developed. Since education was identified as a main factor in the gender gap, a further study investigated the perception of students and educators, also specifically on attractiveness and pursuit of digital careers for girls, in the country.
Since 2020, as part of the Bootcamp campaign, the National Coalition has organised a Digital Skills Bootcamp specifically for girls and women.
Finally, the National Coalition, together with Microsoft, organises an annual event for secondary school girls, to motivate them toward STEM subjects, which could eventually lead them to start a career in IT. Over 90 girls participated in workshops in robotics and AI, Lego Mindstorm and gamification (Digigirlz for schools).
While improvements in the participation of women and girls in ICT in Malta cannot be identified in terms of quantitative and specific results yet, general positive impact on coming generations of students, employees and employers is expected from this programme. This practice also prompted a movement of other women organisations and groups being formed for the same purpose.
This initiative has also resulted in industry and the education sector stakeholders in Malta being more aware and informed about these topics, presenting concrete options for activities to improve women participation. The National Coalition has established itself as a fundamental reference point for information and activities in this area. Finally, the various actions of the initiative can serve as good practice for other stakeholders, to implement independently or championed by other National Coalitions.
To make sure that the activities are conducted efficiently, the funding was provided by eSkills Malta Foundation. The continuous funding was approved by the National Coalition Members, reinforcing the impact and value of the benefits of this long-term initiative.