Gender Differences in Access to and Use of ICTs in Nigeria

Gender Differences in Access to and Use of ICTs in Nigeria

Immanuel Ovemeso Umukoro (Lagos Business School, Pan-Atlantic University, Nigeria), Aanuoluwapo Oluwaseun Omolade-Lawal (University College Hospital, Ibadan, Nigeria), Samuel Oyelami Babalola (UAC Nigeria Plc, Nigeria), Kolawole Sunday Akinsumbo (LucrativeTech, Nigeria), Rashida Mebude Aligwa (Tek Experts Limited, Nigeria) and Balikis Animasaun Abdul-Jeleel (International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Nigeria)
Copyright: © 2021 |Pages: 20
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-3479-3.ch117

Abstract

There is a skewed perception of the differences in access to and use of ICTs in modern society, especially in technology less-advanced nations. While there are various schools of thought on this topical issue, less is evident to establish that males and females have equal access to and use of information and communication technologies. Given the role of ICTs for development and the significance of gender equality to economic advancement as seen in the sustainable development goals, understanding gendered access to and use of ICTs can help develop interventions that help close the gender gap in access to and use of ICTs in order to help women leverage technology for socio-economic inclusion. The study, therefore, attempted to understand the presence or absence of gender differences in access to and use of ICTs and identify the causes in order to guide the development of interventions aimed at closing these gaps.
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Introduction

There are varying perceptions regarding gender equity in access to and use of information and communication technologies. Some argue that women have been maligned and are disadvantaged compared to their male counterparts while others are of the view that equal opportunities abound for both genders. Sanda and Kurfi (2013) submit that in their quest for empowerment and societal recognition, women have adopted and accepted ICTs as instruments for their advancement and empowerment. Although current information is fragmented, there is evidence suggesting that there are two schools of thought on gender differences in access to, and use of ICTs. The first school of thought argues that there are apparent gender differences in access to and use of ICTs (Kose, 2019; Olatokun, 2009; Nsibirano, 2009; Nsibirano, 2006; Agbonlahor, 2005; Brous, 2005; Stewart, 2004; Hafkin & Taggart, 2001). The second school of thought believes that women have come to a position of equal opportunities and platforms with their men counterparts in access to and use of ICTs (Olsson, Samuelsson & Viscovi, 2019; Bhandari, 2019). This view is also shared by Morahan-Martin (2000) who posit that females have reached parity with males in use of the internet and claims that digital divide in access to and use of ICT has disappeared. Gillwald, Milek and Stork (2010) also submit that women in some parts of the world have access to and make more use of ICTs when compared to men. This second school of thought also believed that male domination of the ICT field is not the case anymore.

When looking at the younger generation, especially the digital natives, the gender difference appears to be obliterated with both boys and girls seeming to be involved and interested in the use of various ICT tools, both at school and elsewhere (CERI, 2010). Furthermore, Tomte (2011) notes that there is the emergence of social media with seemingly more female participation. In light of this, there is a need to explore how the gender issue appears in youngsters’ use of and attitudes towards ICTs, and how they perform and interact as producers and consumers of digital contents. The need to bridge the digital divide between men and women in access to and use of information and communication technologies is necessary given that ICTs play essential roles in human development as enablers of meaningful and sustainable development (Gillwald et al. 2010). Furthermore, the United Nations Division for the Advancement of Women (2003) affirms that there is evidence suggesting that access to ICTs can break down the isolation of individuals, enhance their chances of economic and social inclusion as well as provide diverse avenues for women’s social, political, and economic empowerment. To this end, ICTs are potential tools for job creation, social integration, women empowerment, poverty alleviation, and information dissemination. Consequently, access to and use of ICTs cannot be gender-defined but rather transcend gender, income, educational level, geographical location as well as social stratification.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Use of ICTs: This is the utilisation of information and communication technologies for accessing and consuming information and information services consequent of affordability and skills required to manipulate ICTs for strategic advantage efficiently.

Information and Communications Technology for Development (ICT4D): This refers to the use of technology for helping poor and marginalised individuals and communities in developing countries to bridge the digital divide and aiding economic development by ensuring equitable access to up-to-date communications technologies.

Information and Communication Technology: This is a term used for describing all technologies that facilitate the processing, access to, storage, manipulation, use and exchange of information between a sender and receiver of information across various media.

Gender: This is a social construction that refers to the roles developed by male and female in response to their environment, especially concerning socio-cultural differences rather than biological ones.

Access to ICTs: This is an individual’s unrestricted ability, right, or permission to locate and use of an information and communication technology device such as computers, mobile phones, the internet and the likes for the receipt, processing, storage, retrieval, consumption, and dissemination of information.

Digital Divide: This is the gap between technological “have” and “have not” individuals, geographic locations or demographic groups.

Gender Difference: This is the difference in males and females’ mental functions and behaviours that affect their access to and use of information communication technologies as a result of a complex interplay of biological, developmental, and cultural factors.

Information: This is defined as processed data and facts to which meanings have been assigned for the purpose informed decision making that results in a change in behaviour or action as a result of its use or consumption.

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