Preamble

A woman is the essence of life and she has inborn capacity to take care and to sacrifice for others. She displays a range of emotions for being emotional to vulnerable sometimes erratic and also is patient to extremely courageous at the time of crisis.

Women have been fighting their way through all ages and times being tormented and subjugated. They face harassment, exploitation and yet have managed to secure their place in the public domain. The continuing exploitation as well as injustice in the domestic as well as working places has been overruled today as women have accomplished the status by standing equal in terms of freedom, liberty, education and choice. The growing financial independence and literacy have empowered women today asserting their life of dignity. Above all those, getting reliable statistics on women's involvement in ICT in Bangladesh is very difficult. However, it is clear that the numbers are small. Most of the women in Bangladesh use the ICT tools at their work. Except in upper-income enclaves, access to computer or the internet at home is not a typical phenomenon. A series of factors including literacy and education, language, time, cost, geographical location of facilities, social and cultural norms, and women's computer and information search and dissemination skills constrain women's access to information technology. This scenario is similar to other parts of the globe.

As a technical woman, this is her introduction and the first thing she has to learn is how to gel back up and face a situation where the likelihood of getting punished for participating is one. How she chooses to react determines the rest of her career with technology. If it is too painful she would retreat to management, if she can take it out her career will be limited because the very tools she develops to survive have other social consequences. Facing all the challenges, a number of women are now working in different section of ICT in Bangladesh. From Entrepreneurs to professionals and students, they proved themselves and made a story of success that can inspire the rest.

But it spurs a need to gather and to collectively exchange ideas. As a result, an increasing number of groups have formed to help women finding mentors and building, their confidence. Positive role of women in ICT sector is on the rise despite social prejudice against women education in technology. Performance of female ICT persons of the country is up to the mark. The more the women         enter the technology field, the more the demand for women rises. In society, this effect will bear rich dividends. There is no special quota for women to enter IT Profession and so far no special allocation for them. A good working atmosphere should be provided to them for the requirement of confirming better services. A few of them are also on the top positions of few companies but much of them are leaving jobs after marriage or having babies. It is an open truth that working women have to face problems just by virtue of their being Women. Social attitude to the role of women lags much behind the law. This attitude considers women fit for certain jobs. Thus women find employment easily as nurses, doctors, teachers the caring and nurturing sectors, secretaries or in assembling jobs-the routine submissive sectors. But, even if qualified women engineers or managers or geologists are available, preference will be given to a male with equal qualification. A gender bias creates an obstacle at the recruitment stage itself.

She has to almost shoulder the burden of household chores as well. The basic motive for seeking employment of getting independence is nullified in many women's case. Problems of gender bias beset women in the industrial sector. Terminological advancement results in retrenchment of women employees. No one thinks of upgrading their skills. Maternity leave is not given as per need. It is much easier to terminate the woman's employment and hire someone else. Traditionally men are seen as the bread earner and women as the house-keepers and child bearers. This typecast role model continues to put obstacles before the working women. A fundamental change is required in the attitudes of the employers, policy makers, family members and other relatives and the public at large.

As more women and mothers enter the workforce, child care has become an increasingly important public policy issue. Many families, particularly those with modest earnings have trouble in financing its cost. Poor quality of care is another persistent problem. As more and more women have moved, by necessity or choice, from the home to the workforce, the need for affordable, high-quality child care has become critical. Sadly, this need often goes unmet. Participation of women in the ICT sector is on the rise across the world and there is no reason why Bangladesh would lag behind for lack of opportunity to participate in the crucial sector.

It would be a beacon in guiding young women into the technology arena, thereby contributing to national economic growth while improving the lives of their families. We should work to enhance the image of the Bangladeshi women in ICT, offer to be a platform for skills development to create the appropriate skill sets in women and girls taking up ICT as a career; actively work to establish formal and informal networks through the hosting of programmes for members and young women in order to connect and access positive role models in the field of ICT.


We should provide support and information to women involved in ICT as well as those entering the ICT industry through leadership, education, mentoring, coaching and networking. The women who are working in ICT need to promoting each other, create own networks, joining or creating groups and collaborate privately, send alerts on business opportunities, events, jobs or product updates. It will help them to become strong.

 

Connecting Girls:

Nearly fifty percent of Bangladesh's total population is women. Keeping this large size of population in the darkness, it is not possible to develop the country. This requires that women must recognize their strategic needs, their social position and understand how coercive it is. The women's strategic needs are here defined as to increase the women's bargaining capacity, and make them to gain more influence over decision-making.

In terms of women empowerment, education can be a major tool.

The computer and its related technologies are now such an integral part of everyday life that it must be an ingredient in educating for participation in present and future society. Education in Computer Science and Engineering (CSE) can create an opportunity for educators and learners to celebrate women's success and advancement through learning. It will open the windows hope and aspiration for the future

This learning will also help to address the challenges that women are still facing in their respective fields.

Schools, colleges and academic institutions should ensure that courses remain relevant to industry needs, with teamwork and problem-solving. internships, mentoring and social networking that carrys guidance for middle-school and high-school girls informs them of opportunities in the ICT sector; that awareness-raising training and materials are made available for parents, teachers, career guidance counselors and recruiters, to shift their own mindsets, attitudes and preconceived notions about ICT career for girls.

So there is a bright future for girls in ICT. Here, we are to speak of those who gained success as ICT academicians.

Dr. Lafifa Jamal

Dr. Lafifa Jamal,
Chairman, Department of Robotics
and Mechatronics Engineering,
University of Dhaka  

Associate Professor Dr. Lafifa Jamal is currently working as Chairman at the Department of Robotics and Mechatronics Engineering, University of Dhaka. She received her B.Sc. and M.Sc. degrees in Computer Science from University of Dhaka, Bangladesh.

She got admitted at the department of Computer Science and Engineering (CSE) in the University of Dhaka in 1995. She belonged to the first batch. Internet was not available then. So, they had to overcome all the obstacles in the way to complete their studies. All of us should possess such mentality to overcome all the obstacles in case of doing jobs or running studies in any subject including CSE, as she thinks. She said-‘I can do it’-we have to possess such mentality, otherwise we can’t forward, let alone fulfilling the dreams. The main problem for the women is the adjustment between job and family and the problem arises in every sector, besides ICT. That’s because women also have to spend time at home too. But, if the women are skilled in Time Management System, then they will be able to manage it, as Dr. Lafifa Zaman recommended. Women should remember that ICT is not something of time-bound. It is basically a challenge for women that sometime they need more time or sometime less, as she stated. She also wants all the interested women to develop their own skills to do something better in ICT.

Prof. Dr. Suraiya Pervin

Prof. Dr. Suraiya Pervin,
Department of Computer
Science and Engineering (CSE),
University of Dhaka

Prof. Dr. Suraiya Pervin Department of Computer Science and Engineering (CSE), University of Dhaka, did both her Bachelor of Science degree and Master of Science degree from University of Dhaka. She stood 1st class 1st in both segments. She also completed Ph.D from IIT, Kharagpur, India. At the beginning of her career, she did some research works and has many research publications both in national and international journals.

Positive role of women in IT sector is on the rise despite social prejudice against women in technology, as she thinks. According to her, changing mindsets regarding difference between men and women can invite more women to computer science. Performance of female IT persons in the country is up to the mark, as she believes. The more the women enter the IT field, the more the demand for women rises. There is no special quota for women to enter IT profession and so far no special allocation for them. A good working atmosphere should be provided to them for the requirement of confirming better services as per her recommendation. A few of them also hold top positions in some of the reputed companies, but much of them left jobs after marriage or having babies, as she also stated.   

 

Business Leadership:

To get equal benefit, women need to equal participation both in profession and entrepreneurship. In recent years, like other developing countries of the world, Bangladesh has been focusing on the most disadvantaged group in the society - the women. Realization has gradually dawned on all concerned that a society cannot afford to waste half of its human resources by discrimination on grounds of sex. This increasing awareness on the part of the government has led to the adoption of national policies to facilitate a development process involving women in all spheres, particularly in economic activities focusing especially on entrepreneurship development. But in ICT sector of Bangladesh there are very poor number of women entrepreneurs, who have accepted the challenges of life and have emerged as leaders in the socio- economic development, earn for themselves and for their families or contributing towards the socio- political uplift of the women. In our country women lack assistance in the access to credit, provision of skill training, and market facilities specially in ICT. Women entrepreneurs in ICT should be provided special facilities to develop their enterprises. These include Development Banks with separate advisory service cell for ICT projects; Separate counters in commercial banks for women; Arrangement of exclusive fairs to promote ICT product and Services, fixed quota of stalls for women entrepreneurs at export fairs; Special facilities both in the domestic and the international arena.

Moreover to encourage the women in IT Entrepreneurship the awareness and knowledge sharing sessions should be taken off from both private and public. Here, we would like name some of those women in Bangladesh who have overcome the challenges and contributed in the socio economy of the country especially in ICT.

Shomi Kaiser

Shomi Kaiser,
Directo-FBCCI &
President-eCab

Shomi Kaiser is basically from media background starting her acting background in the 1989. Later, she got elected as one of the directors of the country’s apex trade body Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FBCCI) in May, 2017. Henceforth, she also got elected as President of e-Commerce Association of Bangladesh (e-CAB) in January 2018. She actually added a new dimension by getting herself engaged in IT sector from completely a different background.

As being involved in e-commerce industry, she considers e-Commerce a challenging business in perspective of our country. It is not only a matter of selling and buying, it will make a huge contribution to country’s economy in future, as she thinks.  

Farhana A Rahman

Farhana A Rahman,
Vice President-BASIS,
CEO & Chairperson of
UY Systems Ltd.

Farhana A Rahman currently holds the position of Vice President in Bangladesh Association of Software and Information Services. This is the third time that she being elected holds a vital position in country’s one of the biggest ICT association. Besides, she is also the founder of 100% software export oriented company ‘Upload Yourself Systems Limited’.

There is hardly any woman in the current age who holds the mentality to struggle and overcoming the obstacles that other women, usually faced personally in their past life so far, as stated Farhana A Rahman. She said-Currently, women have lots of opportunities around themselves and the girls are studying too. Women are being asked from everywhere to get themselves out from a certain boundary. Although women are getting educated, they are far away to hold a mentality to be self dependent. Despite having many opportunities, numbers of women still couldn’t get out from that boundary where many of our women had been remaining since last 25 years. So, considering all the issues, our women can take ICT as profession to avoid different challenges. But, it doesn’t indicate that ICT is a sector without challenges. In that case, women need to have family support and it is their responsibility to convince their family showing them their expertise. They have to find out what they are actually good at in ICT. She said-I, too, have a family. Besides looking after my family, I am also engaged in different social activities and hold the post of Vice President in BASIS. So, it is necessary to hold our own focus properly even in our busy life. Women have to dream for their own sake and move forward to fulfilling their dreams. Women need to free the way to get updated information, but usually they don’t do so. If they emphasize on these issues, they will be able to something better, said Mrs. Farhana Rahman. 

Rubaba Dowla

Rubaba Dowla,
Founder & Managing Director
Pulse healthcare services

Rubaba Dowla is a highly experienced leader with successful track record of brand management, product innovations and corporate communication. She has been instrumental in building Telenor subsidiary Grameenphone, as number one brand and market leader with more than USD 1 Bn revenue from a start-up stage and headed Services and M-commerce portfolio of Airtel Bangladesh. Currently, she is engaged as Founder and Managing Director, Pulse healthcare services. More than sixteen years of Besides having experience of around above 16 years in telecommunications field, she also gained extensive experience in formulating corporate vision and long term strategy, leading all marketing related functions including spearheading numerous product innovations with P&L responsibility, segmentation, AS, Brand management and development, Customer Relationship Management (CRM), managing Corporate Social Responsibilities (CSR) and internal, external stakeholders.

Syeda Kamrun Ahmed

Syeda Kamrun Ahmed
Co-Founder &CEO, BAGDOOM

Syeda Kamrun Ahmed is currently the CEO of BAGDOOM.com, a very popular lifestyle Ecommerce website in Bangladesh redefining the digital retail landscape. During the initial days, she served as the Director of Strategy and Planning at BAGDOOM.com. Prior to that, she was also a faculty member for BBA & MBA Program at South East University. As Director of Benchmark e-Generation Ltd, her role was to coordinate business plans and strategies between various stakeholders, as well as manage relationships with international clients. She has worked with different Development agencies in the past such as CBI-Netherlands as well as ITC- Switzerland.

There have been created lots of opportunities for the women and to utilize them women have to move forward, as she thinks. She added-Our girls usually make good result in S.S.C. They have shown their merit. Again, they are also good learners. If they get enough support, they always succeed in whatever they do. The girls who are engaged in programming do well in comparison with others, though their numbers have not been increased remarkably. Girls are good in web designing and so, their numbers must be increased. If their merit is properly utilized, they can do well in software industry, too and this is my strong belief. Girls are coming to this industry, they are working, but their career path doesn’t move forward appropriately.

Habiba Nasrin

Habiba Nasrin
Director Operations
Unique Business
Systems Ltd.

Habiba Nasrin Rita is currently engaged as Director of Unique Business SYstems Limited which is one of the largest IT Company in Bangladesh. UBSL represents more than 30 reputed famous international brands like Hitachi-Japan, Dell-USA, MSI and BENQ and Optoma Taiwan, Optoma, Jcom Korea, Apollo-USA, Dalite-USA, ACCO-UK, IDEAL-Germany and so on. She has extended more than 11 branches in Countrywide and Singapore. She is also director operation of unique sound systems and Unique Media systems ltd and ATRS export import ltd. She is Joint secretary of Revival foundation and member of Bangladesh Women Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BWCCI) and Bangladesh women in IT (BWIT).

Mrs. Habiba Nasrin has completed her MBA in international business from IUB-Maastricht University of management, Netherlands and started work from 2005. She has wide experience in international marketing, Entrepreneurship, communications, social work & operational Leadership.

Rezwana Khan

Rezwana Khan,
Director & COO,
Star Computer Systems Ltd.

Rezwana Khan is one of the Directors and the Chief Operating Officer of Star Computer Systems Limited. She is leading the company specializing in Web, E-Business, E-Governance, Financial Management System, ERP, Customized Software Solutions, Offshore Outsourcing Services, Multimedia, ICT Consultancy Services and ICT Training. She has been leading the company through stringent reorganization since she joined from 2004 and plays a crucial role in the company strategy, operations, business development, organizational design and technology. She is currently working in parallel as Consultant, Business Process Analyst for ERP/EAM Project a funded by The World Bank, Gas Transmission Company Ltd. (A Company of Petro Bangla). Amongst her other notable accomplishments, she has provided national consultancy for E-Governance Services to set up an efficient and cost effective Child Labour Information Monitoring System in MOLE. She has also provided Services for the Development of web portal for Food Security for Ultra Poor (FSUP) Programme, European Union. Rezwana Khan holds a bachelors degree from the North South University, Bangladesh where she majored in Computer Science with a minor in Management Information Systems.

 

Management Leadership:

The most important determinant of a country's competitiveness is its human capital and talent — the skills, education and productivity of its workforce. Women account for one-half of the potential talent throughout the world, according to ITU's report "A bright future in ICT — opportunities for a new generation of women". Closing the male-female employment gap is good for economic growth. Research indicates that narrowing this gap has been an important driver of Europe's economic growth over the past decade. The costs are not huge. There is a huge opportunity for women to work in ICT and contribute the world economy so is the national. In most countries, the information and communication technology (ICT) sector is still perceived as a male industry. Men hold most of the top jobs, while women are over-represented in lower level ICT occupations. This is true in both developed and developing countries. Very few numbers of women hold leadership positions at board and senior management levels.

Engaging women and girls in high-flying ICT careers is not only the right thing to do from the point of social justice; it is also smart economics. Gender diversity in high-valued ICT jobs in both management and on the boards of companies is good for business performance. Studies exploring the link between women in leadership positions and business performance have shown a direct positive correlation between gender diversity on top leadership teams and a company's financial results. More diversified teams make better informed decisions, leading to less risk-taking and more successful outcomes. Over time, therefore, a nation's ICT competitiveness depends significantly on whether and how it educates and employs women.

Governments are increasingly recognizing the importance of taking steps to support girls and women in ICT, and a range of initiatives is already on the way. But the ICT sector needs to invest more resources in human capital development and in creating an enabling environment for girls and women.

The choices made by policy-makers, enterprises and individuals on investment in education and training must strive to give women the same rights, responsibilities and opportunities as men. Business leaders and policy-makers need to work together towards removing barriers to women's entry to the ICT workforce, putting in place practices and policies that will provide equal opportunities for rising to positions of leadership within the ICT sector. Such practices will ensure that all existing resources are used in the most efficient manner, and that the right signals are sent regarding the future flow of talent.

So as profession ICT could be good choice for women's specially. It allows and offers women all kinds of the working facility to make balance their personal and professional carrier as whole. At this stage, we are to mention those professionals who chose ICT as a profession and became successful which inspires other women.

Mrs. Hosne Ara Begum, NDC

Mrs. Hosne Ara Begum, NDC
Managing Director
Bangladesh H-Tech Park Authority

Mrs. Hosne Ara Begum is currently engaged as Managing Director of Bangladesh Hi-Tech Park Authority. She is basically optimist about our women’s potentiality in different sectors of ICT. Their contribution in our outsourcing industry is quite praiseworthy and besides, they are also doing e-commerce staying at home, as she said. She stated-Hi-Tech Park Authority has a lot of projects where 500 special trainings have been designed for girls along with other general training. Around 1000 girls were trained in IT and ensured to get jobs. A huge space for women entrepreneurs has already been kept separately in 28 IT parks. We also have the fund for startups women. So, the government is offering all the sort of support to trained & skilled girls along with the relevant support of women entrepreneurs. But the girls herself come forward to access those facilities and we want the family to support their girls into ICT. Because one can’t change anything alone, we need all of us to get the women in the digital economy.

Luna Shamsuddoha

Luna Shamsuddoha
Chairman, Janata Bank,
Founder & Chairman,
Dohatec New Media

Mrs. Luna Shamsuddoha is country’s one of the prominent She is the founder and Chairman of the famous software company Dohatec New Media. Recently, she has been appointed as Chairman of Janata Bank. Besides, she also holds the position of President in Bangladesh Women in IT (BWIT).

Luna Shamsuddoha was recognized globally for her tremendous contribution in IT sector. She also achieved Global Women Inventors and Innovators Network (GWIIN) award for her contribution in women advancement in IT sector and women empowerment as well. She is also the founder of Bangladesh Business Magazine and a member of Global Thought Leader on Inclusive Growth of Switzerland. She was awarded Swiss Interactive Media Software Associations (SIMSA) in the year of 2005.

Our government is working to skill and empower the women from the different aspects they can and it is the opportunity for the young girls who want to be an entrepreneur to come with an idea and get the facilities offered by the government and become successful, as stated Mrs. Luna Shamsuddoha.

Sonia Bashir Kabir

Sonia Bashir Kabir,
Managing Director, Microsoft,
Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan & Laos.

Sonia Bashir Kabir is currently working as Managing Director of Microsoft for the region Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, and Laos. She leads Microsoft’s business in developing and driving strategies for all product lines, services, and support offerings in the four countries, while working closely with partners and local governments to help accelerate the digital transformation across these markets by bringing people, data, and processes together to reinvent business values, provide personalized experience to customers, and transform education in the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

We should work towards enabling every person and organization to have the opportunity to take advantage of the era of intelligent cloud and intelligent edge, as Mrs Sonia recommends. Besides her work at Microsoft, Sonia is a Governing Council Member of the United Nation’s Technology Bank for Least Developed Countries (LDCs). She was also named as one of 10 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Pioneers by the United Nations Global Compact. In 2016, she was the recipient of the Microsoft Founders Award, which only 10 employees out of Microsoft’s 100,000 worldwide employees receive this award each year.

Farzana Khan

Farzana Khan
Deputy General Manager
SME Foundation

Farzana Khan is currently working as Deputy General Manager in SME Foundation. Previously, she worked as Head of Women Entrepreneurship Development and In-charge of SME in MIDAS Financing Limited for around 9 years. She completed her studies form the University of Dhaka.

As per statistics estimated the foundation, around 10 per cent of the total women population is involved in businesses in Bangladesh and women are moving around some selective sectors with their investment due to lack of proper patronization, as said Farzana Khan. In that case, she added, banks and financial institutions can take the responsibility of providing a guideline for women prior to disbursement of loans to the latter. They can come up with a whole package to assist women entrepreneurs on best utilization of the money

Last Words

ICT is offering the opportunity for women to become equal stakeholders in the growing knowledge economy. ICTs can be used by women in their workplace for data entry or other office work. As a tool of communication and a tool of production, ICT can be used to improve women's experience as end-users by increasing their ability to network with others for encouragement purposes or business information. When the tools and support of ICT are provided, women develop new domestic and export businesses, start new associations to represent their interests, and use e-governance to communicate more effectively and efficiently with their local government officials.

In short, the opportunity in ICT for women is huge, even in different countries of the globe that can not be ignored.


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