A new report released by the Broadband Commission Working Group on Broadband and Gender reveals a “significant and pervasive” technology gender gap in access to information and communication technologies.
The report estimates that, globally, there are currently 200 million fewer women online than men, and warns that the gap could grow to 350 million within the next three years.
Entitled Doubling Digital Opportunities: Enhancing the Inclusion of Women & Girls in the Information Society, the report reveals that of the world’s 2.8 billion Internet users, 1.3 billion are women, compared with 1.5 billion men.
The report notes that, in developing countries, every 10% increase in access to broadband translates to a 1.38% growth in GDP.
That means that bringing an additional 600 million women and girls online could boost global GDP by as much as US$18 billion.
While the gap between male and female users is relatively small in OECD nations, it widens rapidly in the developing world, where expensive, “high status” ICTs like computers are often reserved for use by men.
In sub-Saharan Africa, the report’s authors estimate that there are only half the number of women connected as men.
Worldwide, women are also on average 21% less likely to own a mobile phone – representing a mobile gender gap of 300 million, equating to US$13 billion in potential missed revenues for the mobile sector.