Girls Talk Exclusivity: Insights into Young Women’s Ideas on ICTs


Although information and communication technologies (ICTs) have been identified as tools with immense empowerment potential, especially for girls, research shows low levels of female access, use and industry participation, thus depriving girls of the advantages ICTs offer. This paper explores Ghanaian elementary and high school girls’ views on ICTs, with the aim of gauging female acceptance and utilization of ICTs in light of assumed enablers and hindrances surrounding the use of ICTs. Using focus group discussions and in-depth interviews, we derive insights into young girls’ interest in careers that involve ICTs, and how this may relate to amount of exposure and experience with ICTs, access to ICT resources, and the cultural environment. The results indicate generally low enthusiasm for ICT careers, although participants would consider ICT careers as an option in situations of dire employment need. However, the analyses also point to a complex landscape of gendered norms, shifting and evolving attitudes, pedagogical tendencies and constraints, and divergent experiences depending on age, gender and socio-economic status. Of particular concern is the observation that the initial enthusiastic engagement of young girls with ICTs might be curtailed as they grow older and are channelled away from such interests by social norms. Negative stereotypes about young women’s use of ICTs, gendered household roles and related misconceptions about the relevance of ICTs to women’s wellbeing, and gendered perceptions about ICT efficacy, all contribute to this subtle re-aligning of girls’ choices. Resource allocation and curriculum redesign interventions are required at community and societal levels to present ICT usage, study and professions as equally relevant to all genders. Additional support could be provided by increasing opportunities for girls to access ICTs and develop related skills outside the formal school setting. This study contributes a Ghanaian perspective to the relatively limited body of knowledge on gender and ICTs in African countries.