Purpose: The advent of information and communication technologies (ICTs) has provided job opportunities for many people in Cameroon. Workers may seek employment with multinational telecom companies or choose to work for cyber cafés which are companies that provide fee-based Internet access to paying customers. However, employment or participation in the ICT sector is often defined by gender. This paper seeks to highlight the issues that surround pink collar (feminized) ICT jobs in Cameroon. One issue focuses on the use of social skills by women to increase ICT growth. Another issue looks at ICT job distribution and the factors associated with sex distribution among the various sectors.
Design/Methodology: Using field case studies, secondary data and semi-structured interviews, our research explores this gendered division of labor which seems ironic in a sector that promised so much empowerment – of information and knowledge – to many in the developing country. We raise the question: why are there so many women in the lower rungs of the ICT industry in Cameroon? Are there any social, cultural, economic or educational factors that hinder the participation of women in management positions in Cameroon’s ICT sector?
Findings: After conducting extensive literature review, examining secondary data and interviewing ICT managers, we find support for the argument that certain categories of ICT-related jobs tend to be gender-specific. Some contributing factors to this state of affairs include female capacity in service sectors; the inadequate participation of women in higher education science/ICT related subjects; poor orientation of girls from primary through secondary education and cultural biases that have exempted girls from hardcore science subjects such as physics, mathematics and chemistry.
Research Limitations/Implications: This paper concretely presents a picture of the participation and representation of women in the ICT sector in Cameroon. It shows how ICT employment in Cameroon reflects basic gender roles and also how women through education can overcome such stereotyping and achieve economic success using ICT products. However, it does not explore all areas of ICTs where women are represented. It also does not analyse women’s constraints in all ICT sectors.
Practical and Policy Implications: The need for curriculum revision especially in the secondary education sector is a major policy implication derived from this paper. New ways of teaching science subjects should be encouraged in order to attract female students. Also, employee positions should be created in secondary and high schools for trained career advisors who understand the need for female representation and participation in all sectors of development particularly in science and technology.
Social Implications: Male and female work patterns are different. Women are driven by the need to satisfy both the job market and family life. Employers should understand these major roles that women have and design flexible work environments that can accommodate women’s triple roles, while harnessing women’s special talents and contributions in the work place. The nature of pink collar jobs should also be reevaluated in terms of salaries and work enrichment programs such as in-house trainings to improve the capacity of women and eventually move them to more technical positions of responsibility.
Key words: Pink Collar Jobs, ICTs, Women, Cameroon
Manka, E., Muluh, H., Tanjong, E. Mbarika, V., and Boateng, R. (2010) Women in Pink Collar ICT Jobs in Cameroon, Anthology of Abstracts of the 3rd International Conference on ICT for Africa, March 25-27, Yaoundé, Cameroon. Baton Rouge, LA: International Center for IT and Development.