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"Mobile Tech and Workforce Development Programs for Girls and Young Women:" Successes and Hurdles

Research from Technology Salon ( article "12 Mobile Technology and Workforce Development Programs With Girls and Young Women" by Linda Raftree. Discusses benefits of mobile technology in youth workforce development programs, gender issues, barriers to entry, data and research. Links to notable mobile initiatives.

Photo of Leigh Cullen
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"12 Mobile Technology and Workforce Development Programs With Girls and Young Women" by Linda Raftree

In sum:
Mobile vs stationary ICT (information and communications technology)
  • "Mobile can reach girls and young women with services and information they cannot normally get, helping them access the opportunities, skills, and information they need to better position them for work. Mobile job matching allows girls and young women to seek jobs without leaving the home. Micro-tasking (breaking up jobs into tiny tasks that can be done by a number of individuals, eg., via a mobile phone) offers a way for girls and young women from slum areas, those not able to work outside of the home, and those pulled out of difficult situations like sexual exploitation; to access entry-level work and gain experience that can help them quickly move to better jobs. Some 75% of women doing microtasking with Samasource move on to better jobs within 6 months, for example."
  • Mobile can connect youth to work opportunities (based on skills & profile matches) closer to them, dispelling the notion that one has to move to a city to find work.
  • Apps can teach basic literacy & numeracy skills (amongst other skillsets) that help improve the opportunities youth can apply for.
  • Mobile web makes it easier to get online vs. having to travel somewhere to access the web via computer. Mobile requires less electricity than desktop computers.

Designing a workforce program for girls & women
  • Gender & culture: "Girls and young women may find a scholarship or a job via mobile but for various reasons, such as controlled mobility or cultural or resource restrictions, they may not be able to take advantage of it...It is important to meet people where they are in terms of cultural barriers and not try to shift things too quickly or all at once or there can be serious backlash."
  • Accessibility: " needs to happen at a time when women are more able to participate, such as after breakfast and before lunch when the children are at school and the husband is not back yet...It’s also critical to understand the dynamics of husbands and mothers-in-law who often want to know what young women are doing at all times. Some women may be happy to conceal the fact that they are participating in training, but programs should help women and girls gauge their potential risks...Another strategy is working with husbands and men to generate buy-in so that girls and women can participate in different labor market-related activities...The many precise cultural and social issues around gender and mobile require more research. Talking with girls and young women about these barriers and ensuring programs take them into account is an important part of the design process."
  • Family structure: In emerging economies, women and girls are usually the last to receive phones within a family structure..."This does vary from country to country, but overall, women are less active and with less access to mobile devices. This is a critical gap if organizations wish to involve girls and young women in mobile-based programs."
  • High-growth sectors: "This is a worldwide hurdle in terms of positioning girls and young women for the new jobs being created in these sectors, not just something that happens in ‘developing’ countries. Some programs are reaching out specifically to girls and young women to teach them to code and to break down the idea that only boys and men are smart enough to do it... (P)lant a seed that helps girls and young women see the possibilities of their own impact in the world. Enabling girls and young women to create, not just consume content, can change the status quo."
  • Mobile won't solve everything. "There is a dearth of data around how girls and women use mobile." Data points need to be shared.

There is more solid content shared in this article. Highly recommend reading through it.

Links in article:
Stepping Stone
Mobiles for Education Alliance

More on Samasource by HBR:


Join the conversation:

Photo of Meena Kadri

Fascinating highlight that 75% of women doing microtasking with Samasource move on to better jobs within 6 months amongst many other gems here, Leigh.

And thought you might want to connect to posts like this via our Build Upon feature: That way the person who wrote it will get an email notification and is likely to come and join the brilliant conversation you've started here as well. Collaboration loves company, right? :^)

Photo of Leigh Cullen

Hi Meena! It is a pretty awesome Samasource stat for women & microtasking.

Just linked to Hima's, "Training, using simple mobile technologies, works" post. I'll reach out to her as well. Thanks for connecting our similar research paths!