Over the past five years, Argentina’s economy has been contracting, with the largest decline occurring in 2020. Despite a significant rebound in 2021, unemployment rates remain high, standing at 13% according to official data (28% when counting the 2.5 million people who left the formal job market entirely). The unemployment rate for young people is much higher—23% for young men and 29% for young women.
Despite these challenges, there are segments of the economy that continue to be dynamic and show important employment opportunities, like the software development sector, which is linked to external markets and therefore not significantly affected by Argentina’s ongoing economic challenges. According to the Inter-American Development Bank (IADB), software development will be the fastest growing sector for new employment in Latin America over the next five years, with 1.2 million professionals needed by 2025. The IADB points to a talent gap in this area, and this mismatch between labour demand and supply is also true in Argentina. Women in general, and marginalised young women in particular, are poorly positioned to take advantage of these employment opportunities, as demonstrated by the ever-widening gender gap in this field. According to the most recent data, women account for only 20% of those studying technology in Argentina and only 11% of women have jobs in the technology sector.
A technology sector with low gender diversity means that women participate less in a field characterised by attractive salaries and full social benefits, and where labour demand outpaces supply. Some of the contributing factors to this phenomenon are the lack of educational opportunities in science and technology for women, especially for marginalised women, the fact that most of them are not exposed to role models of successful women in technology and that traditional gender norms relegate women to caretaking roles. When marginalised young women are relegated to lower paying jobs in the informal sector, they have less financial independence and are less likely to break the cycle of poverty and inequality.
Chicas en Tecnología (CET), which translates to “Girls in Technology”, is a non-profit organisation based in Buenos Aires that helps address the gender gap in science and technology by teaching computer programming and basic life skills exclusively to young women. CET was founded in 2015 by a group of female professionals with the goal of exposing young women to science and technology careers through hands-on programs.
EMpower’s first grant to Chicas en Tecnología (CET) will support 60 marginalised young women from Buenos Aires, between the ages of 17 and 23, to acquire the programming and life skills they need to secure employment or pursue higher education in the IT sector. EMpower support will help the organisation develop its first program intentionally designed for this population. The program will be implemented in collaboration with another EMpower grantee partner, Cimientos, which will help identify and recruit programme participants that come from marginalised backgrounds, an area where CET has limited expertise. EMpower will also support CET to develop a platform to house all of its program offerings in one place and to strengthen linkages to employment.
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