Opening new opportunities for tech careers for women in Moldova

Date: Thursday, February 7, 2019

Photo: UN Women Moldova/ATIC
In Chișinău, Republic of Moldova, women attend the launch event for a new online platform to learn ICT Skills. Photo: UN Women Moldova/ATIC

Irina Mita and Olga Lupașco were both looking for a fresh start in their careers in Moldova.

Mita, an accountant and in her thirties, found herself drawn to the IT sector. “I think it is the profession of the future, a convertible work, and if you want to go somewhere far away, you can work from anywhere in the world,” she says.

Lupasco turned to the growing area of the IT sector for a new career after taking time away from work to be with her children. “Once I returned home after a few years in Italy, I was thinking of taking some [ICT] courses. I was even more motivated to attend these courses when my maternity leave ended. I had forgotten many things in the six years when I stayed at home.” The technology had also evolved by that time.

Mita and Lupasco are among 1,000 women who are learning new skills through an online platform supported by the Moldovan Association of ICT Companies and UN Women, with the financial support of the Government of Sweden. The programme trains young women for ICT careers as front-end developers and technology creators. The online courses offered through the programme have been particularly useful, as the participants can learn tech skills from their homes or any other location and at their own pace, without having to travel for a class at a specific place and time.

Photo: UN Women Moldova/ ATIC
In Chișinău, Republic of Moldova, an information session about the mobile platform trainings to come for young women to get into ICT careers. Photo: UN Women Moldova/ ATIC

The ICT sector presents tremendous opportunities for women, with an estimated 90 per cent of jobs soon requiring ICT skills. But as of 2016, globally, only 25 per cent of all computing jobs were held by women.

“In a few years, the IT sector in our country might look different if we offer equal opportunities and convince girls and women that they can do this job, can show their creativity and can have good IT careers”, says Ana Chirita, Executive Director of the Moldovan Association of ICT Companies. “We want as many women and girls as possible to embrace an IT career.”

It takes a commitment of only 20 minutes per day for participants to learn the basics of programming, enabling them to develop an app or a website.

The programme is also encouraging women to become mentors for the younger generation.

"I am a math teacher and I always wanted to know everything related to the IT field,” shares Elena Boldurescu, 42, another student in the programme. “Last year I submitted my document for a Master’s degree in this field, but gave up because I could not afford to pay for these studies. [Completing] this course was a challenge for me, but I'm open to training myself in this field. Also, during my math lessons, I show to my students the practical application of IT and always talk to them about the opportunities in this area, because IT means tomorrow."

Olga Boldurescu. Photo: UN Women Moldova/ ATIC
Elena Boldurescu. Photo: UN Women Moldova/ ATIC

The programme participants also learn the importance of developing user-friendly, interactive and convenient web experiences. They need to accumulate the highest score through four specialty courses: HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and Vue.js.

“Ensuring gender equality and empowering women is the core mandate of UN Women. And that’s because gender inequalities are still present in our daily lives. Looking at the situation in the labour market, one can see that the most underpaid jobs are predominantly “feminised”, women’s salaries being lower than men’s by about 13–14 per cent,” says Lucretia Ciurea, Monitoring and Evaluation Officer at UN Women in Moldova. “To reduce these imbalances, we have identified, together with girls, women and the development partners, the IT sector as an area of untapped opportunities for women. We are confident that once women get engaged in this sector, the whole society will benefit.”

After the participants complete six months of training, in May 2019, those who have earned the full 8,000 points will be invited to a two-month IT ‘boot-camp’. There, students will work in teams on social projects, such as building a website for a local mayor or a school to further hone their skills. After graduating from the programme, participants will be connected with IT companies for new career opportunities.