By Chad Bryan
JIS Contributing Writer
KINGSTON, Jamaica, April 28 (JIS) — Energy, Science and Technology Minister, Dr. Andrew Wheatley, is underscoring the need for greater female involvement in the field of information and communication technology (ICT).
Speaking at the Girls in ICT Day seminar and exhibition, held at the Knutsford Court Hotel in Kingston, today, Dr. Wheatley acknowledged the role of local women in the industry, but noted that there is room for more.
Head of ConnectiMass, Ingrid Riley, and General Manager of Management Control (MC) Systems, Dianne Smith-Sears, were among the women lauded by the Minister for their contribution to the sector.
The Minister advised the students, from more than 22 high schools in nine parishes, that careers in the field of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) are the “fields of the future”.
He informed his audience that these areas are to be “seriously considered” when children are selecting career paths.
“By 2020, in the United States alone, there will be 1.2 million jobs requiring computer-related skills,” the Minister noted.
“We need to prepare our young women for the world of STEM, in general and ICT in particular, in order for more of them to carve out a piece of Jamaica, and the world, for themselves,” he added.
The Minister emphasized that ICT can “amplify women’s voices, women’s experiences and perspectives,” adding that skilled young women in ICT, coupled with private sector initiatives, can transform Jamaica into the “Silicon Valley of the Caribbean”.
Meanwhile, Public Education Specialist in the Office of Utilities Regulation (OUR), Elizabeth Bennett-Marsh, said her organisation decided to host the event this year, with a view to having young women learning more about ICT and the careers available in the field.
For his part, Director General of the OUR, Albert Gordon, informed that there are tremendous benefits to be had from ICT and that they are far-reaching.
Several presentations on careers in ICT, its development in Jamaica and men working with women in ICT were discussed by a number of persons in the sector.
Observed on the last Thursday of the month of April each year, Girls in ICT Day is a global effort by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) to empower and encourage girls and young women to consider studies and careers in ICT.
Additionally, Girls in ICT Day aims to raise awareness among parents, teachers and other influences in girls’ lives.