The Courage of Those 1,000 Women or Why the Future IT Sector Will be Inflected for Feminine

They come from different fields and are of different ages, but they all have taken the same firm decision – to radically change their careers, learning a new profession from scratch. And not just any profession, but that of the future, demanded on the labour market and well paid, that was reserved, until recently, only for men. An ‘army’ of 1,000 women equipped with a mouse and a keyboard has declared `a war` against the stereotypes and is about to change the IT image in Moldova for good.

Date: Monday, January 21, 2019

The training program is implemented by the Moldovan Association of ICT Companies, with the support of UN Women Moldova. Credit: ATIC Moldova.

It is an understatement to say that women are under-represented in the ICT sector, while the projects that offer them the opportunity to claim a place in this ‘men’s club’ are enjoying great success. Not to mention that in 2018 schools are not the same either – in just 15 minutes a day, online, with a flexible schedule, hundreds of women are studying to become programmers. It is a training program implemented by the Moldovan Association of ICT Companies, with the support of UN Women (United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women) and the financial support of the Swedish Government under ‘Empowering Women with ICT Skills’ Project. 

Irina, program student: “’I am an accountant, but for a long time I was thinking of changing my profession and area of work, since I find IT more interesting. I think it is the profession of the future, a convertible work, and if you want to go somewhere far away, you can work from anywhere in the world. I’ve taken some courses in this area before, but it is difficult to keep up when you have a full-time job. I decided to work as a web developer starting with the next year, and I very much welcome the initiative to participate in personalised courses together with certain IT companies.”

Program participants are studying to become front-end programmers – it is one of the most demanded jobs on the labour market. It involves programming the interface of a website or web app users interact with. During the course, girls and women acquire the basic skills they need to develop a website or an app with a solid semantic structure. They also learn to develop products that will provide users with interactive, convenient and pleasant web experiences.

Olga, program student: “Once returned home after a few years in Italy, I was thinking of taking some courses in this area. I was even more motivated to attend these courses when my maternity leave ended. I forgot many things during those around six years when I stayed at home. Before coming to these courses, I wouldn’t understand much if someone talked to me using specialised terms. Now I do and I even can explain the details of HTML or JavaScript, for instance. The progress I made during these courses makes me proud of myself and of everything I can do now.”

The participants in the training program benefit from online and offline sessions from October 2018 till May 2019. During these six months they have the task of studying online for at least 15 minutes per day to accumulate 8,000 points at the four specialty courses: HTML, CSS, Javascript, VueJS+ES 6. The next two months will be dedicated to practical workshops, where the participants will study under the guidance of experienced mentors. They will benefit from a total of 40 hours of practical training at the training centre. To encourage women’s access to the most dynamic industry, the program courses are free of charge and are taught in Romanian and Russian.

Those 1,000 girls and women from across the country who were accepted to the program are currently at their first stage. Subsequently, the participants will be selected for the workshop stage on the basis of their results achieved during the six-month online training and from the automated CV. The program has nationwide coverage and is open to all girls and women who reached the age of 18.

Ana Chirita, Executive Director of the Moldovan Association of ICT Companies: “In a few years, the IT sector in our country might look different if we offer equal opportunities and convince girls and women that they can do this job, can show their creativity and can have good IT careers. We want as many women and girls as possible to embrace an IT career. Therefore, we launched and implement programs in partnership with UN Women, the Swedish Government and the United States Agency for International Development to support or encourage girls to choose such careers.”

Lucretia Ciurea, Monitoring and Evaluation Officer at UN Women: “Ensuring gender equality and empowering women is the core mandate of UN Women. And that’s because gender inequalities are still present in our daily lives. Looking at the situation on the labour market, one can see that the most underpaid jobs are predominantly “feminised”, women’s salaries being lower than men’s by about 13–14% in the total economy. To reduce these imbalances, we have identified, together with girls, women and the development partners, the IT sector that creates more opportunities. We are confident that once women get engaged in this sector, the whole society will benefit, but primarily – girls, women and their families.”           

‘Empowering Women with ICT Skills’ Project was launched in June 2018 with the financial support of the Swedish Government and UN Women (United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women). The main objective of the project is to promote gender equality through ICT and to raise awareness that technologies are tools that allow to create a society where women and men can contribute and participate substantially and equally.