Intel announces ‘She Will Connect’ initiative to reduce online gender gap

Using gaming and peer networking Intel aims to double the number of females with access to the Internet and expand digital literacy around the world.

Intel has announced a new program aimed at expanding digital literacy. Millions of girls around the world have little or no access to education. 'She Will Connect' is a new program that commits to expanding digital literacy skills to young women in developing countries.

intel gender gap she will connect initiative women on the web
Credit: Intel Women on the Web report

On average across the developing world almost 25 percent fewer women than men have access to the Internet. In regions like Sub-Saharan Africa the gap is almost 45 percent. It will make an economic difference too. The Internet contribution to global GDP is greater than the GDP of Canada.

Through access to technology, scholarships and community learning programs, Intel intends to provide girls and women with opportunities for quality education and personal growth.

Intel is going to begin its initiative in Africa, working with a range of partners including global and local NGOs and governments. Here the gender gap is the greatest. It aims to reach 5 million women and reduce the gender gap by 50 percent.

“The Internet has transformed the lives of billions of people,” ~ Shelly Esque, vice president, Intel Corporate Affairs Group and president of the Intel Foundation.

Intel and the Intel Foundation has invested more than $1 billion in this initiative to date.

In the last ten years Intel employees have donated close to 3 million volunteer hours towards improving education in more than 60 countries.

Securing Internet access for women would demonstrate both social and economic benefits for this group.

The She Will Connect initiative will provide digital literacy skills to girls and women and expand the digital literacy agenda in a scalable way.

“The Internet has transformed the lives of billions of people,” said Shelly Esque, vice president of Intel’s Corporate Affairs Group and president of the Intel Foundation.

“It functions as a gateway to ideas, resources and opportunities that never could have been realized before, but our research shows that girls and women are being left behind. We believe that closing the Internet gender gap has tremendous potential to empower women and enrich their lives as well as all the lives they touch.”

The model will address gender and development programming targeting women and girls using:

  • Intel is developing an online gaming platform to deliver digital literacy content through an interactive, approach for smartphones and tablets in a 'game-infused environment'. Learning can take place in a structured environment either as an individual, across devices and networking with peers.
  • Intel is integrating World Pulse’s digital empowerment training into existing digital literacy programs and connect women to a safe and supportive peer network. Through the platform, women can exchange ideas, find support and mentorship, and obtain relevant content tailored for them.

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Findings from the “Women and the Web” report released by Intel in January issued a call to action for stakeholders to double the number of women and girls online in developing countries in three years.

Intel is also expanding on its commitment to empower girls and women globally, with work in India. Its goal is to reach 1 million women with its ‘Easy Steps’ digital literacy training program in 2013.

In Latin America, Intel is partnering with several governments and organizations to provide digital literacy training and fostering entrepreneurial skills in Columbia, Mexico and Peru.

In this increasingly global economy, we need curiosity, critical thinking and a strong foundation in math and science if we are to move forwards.

These skills will enable the workforce of tomorrow to compete for the high-tech jobs of the 21st century.

Increasing the amount of digitally literate women might give us the tech skills we need.