Jordanian Women in Tech
I live in a place where women in tech are very common — however, when I went to a developing country, and my perspective was completely changed. Most women in that area were unemployed, and from the looks of it, that seemed very normal. I was 11 years old back then, and that was the first time I learned about gender inequality.
Gender inequality is a term used to describe men and/or women that are not treated as equals.
This has actually been one of the world’s hardest challenges to overcome, and to this date — genders are not perceived as equal. In my opinion, the main reason why we have this problem is that the world struggles to recognize it in the first place.
For example, there is this huge misconception of women needing the permission of men to work. If a man allows a woman to work, then that wouldn’t seem like gender inequality…..but it is!
‘Allowing’ someone to do something means that a person believes that they are in a higher authority or some sort of higher position that makes the ‘decision’. That is not gender equality.
I decided to do some research towards a country that struggles with GE, and that’s when I learned about Jordan’s current situation.
Amman (the capital of Jordan) is split into 2 different districts — East and West Amman. West Amman is known to be much more developed and wealthier, meanwhile, the East is very lacking in infrastructure, education, etc.
The total population of Jordan is 10.2 million, while Amman holds around 4 million (40% of Jordan’s population is located in Amman). Most investments are targeted towards West Amman, resulting in an imbalance in the social and economic value of the other regions. In comparison, West Amman invests large amounts towards women empowerment programs, campaigns, and organizations.
One of the main problems here is Child Marriage.
Child Marriage is very common not only in Jordan but also all around the world. The minimum age in most countries for marriage is 18 years old, however, in Jordan, around 12% of girls are forced into child marriage.
- Child marriage by the age of 15: 2%
- Child marriage by the age of 18: 10%
No matter the amount of effort put into preventing child marriage, it still continues.
The 2 root causes of child marriage are education & poverty
In East Amman, families can neither afford education nor just don’t see the value in it. Jordan has one of the highest literacy rates for women with a score of 97.83%. The problem is that women pursue careers that are low in payment, for example, a teacher.
The main reason why women don’t engage in the digital economy is that they either aren’t educated about the topic or because of cultural/societal barriers. Topics such as technology aren’t as valued in Jordan compared to a subject like science or math. Jobs that require advanced skills (such as tech) are opted to provide high-paying salaries. And that’s exactly what families want!
When there’s a woman that doesn’t contribute financially to a family, it feels like an extra mouth to feed and take care of. Therefore, girls are just ‘traded’ in a form of child marriage.
Organizations such as the UN have taken initiative to solve these problems, and have established several approaches. One of them includes campaigns. United Nations Women has hosted multiple events to encourage women in developing countries to contribute to the digital economy. The only downside to that, is they are unsustainable.
Most campaigns last for about 45 days and bring very little impact. The objective should be to put in little effort but a big impact. There is a need for a more permanent solution.
Solution: Tech-Based Program
One of the main reasons why women aren’t engaged in the digital economy is due to the lack of education. Most girls in Amman, Jordan, aren’t exposed to technology-based studies. The solution for a tech-based educational curriculum includes a combination of safety, education, and poverty aid.
Implementing an after-school program that educates girls about the digital economy will increase the number of women in tech. Our approach to this problem is to create an effective curriculum, that will teach and prepare girls for the digital economy. The curriculum will be supported on an online platform and could be accessed anywhere and anytime.
The program will run for 7 months, and there will be daily requirements for the students. To encourage and incentivize the students, there will be a community hub and monthly competitions.
- All-girls (environment)
In East Amman, safety is a huge concern for women. Many restrict them from even interacting in society. This feature involves solving 2 problems — sanitation, safety/social norms. The program is specifically designed for all-girls. Therefore, building trust between families and the program workers. We believe that women and girls will feel much more secure when surrounded by people they are comfortable with. Secondly, women struggle to maintain sanitization during menstruation. Developing an all-girls environment, that allows women to feel much more secure.
- Weekly meetings & Daily requirements
Meetings will be placed once a week for 1 hour.
The objective of establishing daily requirements is to hold the students accountable. By having given tasks on a daily basis, it helps to create a habit for the girls. As a result, they will be much more engaged in the program. On the other hand, weekly meetings are supposed to a 1-hour slot to have check-ins with the students. Throughout this session, any questions or thoughts will be shared with the program director.
- Computer Lab (environment)
Computer labs have been a huge help to the entire world. It’s simple — for people that don’t have a computer at home, a public computer lab always comes to the rescue. As I said before, East Amman lacks many opportunities, and they don’t have access to many things — including devices, internet, etc.
By implementing an all-girls computer lab women will both feel secure and incentivized. The computer lab will be created for the tech-based program, but since they will be occupying the space for 1 hour, the computer lab will be open for public women. This means that during sessions, the students will be using the space and during the rest of the time, it will be open for women of all ages (only females. This way it maintains that ‘all-girls space)
The program will be based on a tech-based curriculum that is composed of 3 levels and 4 units for each level. A highlight for the curriculum will be providing opportunities for the students. We want girls to pursue careers in the digital economy and as a program, we can take initiative on that. This curriculum will be designed to teach, and prepare them for tech-based careers.
Unit 1: Introduction to the Digital Economy
Unit 2: Coding
Unit 3: E-commerce
Unit 4: Media
When implementing a solution in a developing country that is cost-efficient for both the girls and the program is essential. The price of our program is very low — $20 per year (the girls in the program will have this fee included in their total payment).
- Monthly Competitions
The real question is, why would the girls want to do this? Our program will hold monthly competitions, in which they will need to apply the knowledge they have learned throughout the month. The ‘winner’ of that specific competition will be awarded financially.
Several women are married at a young age since they don’t provide for their families. If they participated in events such as monthly competitions, most will be receiving a high amount of money. That’s the key — parents wouldn’t want to send their daughter away if she’s making a lot of money!
Careers in the digital economy, tend to be one the highest paying jobs. Apparently, only 19% of women are in entry-level roles, 16% of women hold senior-level positions, and only 10% of women hold executive-level positions. The overall goal is to build a community where girls feel empowered, educated, and safe.
Exposing young girls to the digital economy and tech at a very young age gives more than enough time to build the skills, and this may help shape their future. Several girls believe that pursuing ‘high-paying’ jobs is above their abilities — when in reality it isn’t. A tech-based program is a great start to encourage girls to learn about technology. Opportunities are something East Amman lacks, but this solution tackles many of the problems that girls that place the face 🇯🇴.
You made it all the way down here! That’s great. I’m Sanvi — a 14 year old that wants to solve the world’s biggest problems. Email me: email@example.com
Hope you enjoyed the article!