Investing in Skills Development: Girls and Digital Literacy

This blog was posted on behalf of Renee Kuriyan, Intel’s Director of Social Impact.

“We have access to thousands of bits of information, millions, but why memorize something that you can just look up in 3 seconds? No, you should know how to use that information…it’s regurgitation that is kind of killing us.” said Jack Andraka on a panel hosted by Chelsea Clinton at the Clinton Global Initiative this October. Jack is Intel’s 15-year-old Science Fair winner who developed a new method for detecting pancreatic cancer.

In my research, I have had countless experiences watching students in East Africa, India and the United States memorizing and regurgitating information rather than being taught critical thinking, problem solving, and ways to communicate ideas effectively. These transferable skills are often missing in educational systems, but are essential to innovate and compete in a global workforce.

For technology corporations like Intel, a properly trained workforce is the foundation of our business and ability to innovate. That is why skills development is a key component of Intel’s education strategies– whether that’s equipping young people with digital or information literacy skills, or training teachers to use technology to deliver 21st century learning skills. Unfortunately, access to skills training is unequal – poor young women are least likely to have skills to become a productive force in the economy. 

The International Center for Research on Women (ICRW) just released an assessment of the Intel® Learn program, an education initiative that provides technology education to youth around the world, that examines its impact on female learners. ICRW found that Intel Learn has been able to reach large numbers of girls and women and enhance their technology and critical thinking skills, as well as their self-confidence. All this improves their effectiveness as students, community members, and businesswomen.

The report found that in most of the Intel Learn countries:

  • Girls’ self-confidence increased
  • Girls’ sense of power—their ability to control and share in resource use—increased while taking part in the program, as well as their ability to define and make choices
  • Girls improved their ability to use technologies to communicate, collect, share and organize information
  • Girls improved their collaboration and problem solving skills in all countries, and their creativity
  • Girls used technology to design and develop new product

Developing technology skills coupled with critical thinking is a powerful force to combatting unemployment, inequality and poverty and to promote economic growth.

Check out the full ICRW report at: