A call has been made for intentional leadership to close the gender equality gap that exists within the regional information and communications technology (ICT) sector.

According to Janelle Pascall, Chair of CANTO’s Women in ICT Committee, the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic has further compounded gender equality efforts and the issue has deepened within the traditionally male-dominated industry.

“In our region, we have many of the pieces needed to increase representation of women in ICT including a healthy participation of women in the workforce and high literacy rates and levels of tertiary education, where women enrol and graduate at higher rates than men. We also have high penetration of ICT infrastructure; however, a gender gap still exists in public and private sector leadership, including the ICT industry,” she said.

Pascall, who is Senior Manager, Communications at C&W Communications, was speaking as part of a panel discussion at CANTO’s 37th Annual Conference in Miami that focused on the topic ‘Redefining the Future of Work’.

“The International Labour Organization says in almost every country, women are under-represented in ICT, and based on available data for 116 countries, women’s median share of employment in ICT positions is less than one third, so without the presence of girls and women in ICT, our region’s development will be delayed, innovation will be limited and exclude half of our population,” she said.

CANTO is a non-profit association made up of operators, organizations, companies, and individuals working within the regional ICT sector.

“Over the last two years we’ve also gained valuable insights from the largest work-from-home experiment that came about because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Research from the United Nations also suggests the pandemic has pushed back gender equality efforts by almost 40 years,” added Pascall.

“The paradox is, according to some studies, some women prefer remote working as they can better integrate their home and work lives. So, understanding all of this, how do we make our workplaces more inclusive and welcoming for women.”

The panel discussion was expertly led by Ruchi Kaushal, General Counsel of C&W Communications, who is also a member of the Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion Advisory Council at LLA and the Sponsor of the LLA Women’s Employee Resource Group.

The Session included practical insights from Daniel Neiva, C&W’s Vice President for B2B in LatAm; Dwayne Davis, Group Chief Information Officer, Cable Bahamas Ltd; and Dr. Jeannice Fairrer Samani, Managing Director of the Fairrer Samani Group.

C&W Communications, operators of the Flow, Flow Business, C&W Business and BTC brands, was the presenting sponsor of this year’s conference with the theme ‘Enabling the Digital Evolution’.