Minding The Digital Literacy Gap: It Is Real And It Matters

Written by: Bethlehem Gronneberg
Bethlehem Gronneberg Founder and CEO of uCodeGirl


We know technology has forever changed the way we live, work and interact with each other. We also know that we are in the era of great transformation with various technological advancements that converge the biological and digital world, revolutionizing business operations and making processes more efficient. At the same time, the scramble to go virtual during COVID-19 has highlighted the chasm between where we were and where we need to be in terms of preparedness in infrastructure, and digital knowledge investment in schools, higher institutes, companies and the general public at large.

The pandemic has further exposed the growing digital divide amongst different segments of the population. Despite the ubiquitous presence of the internet and the rampant increase in the use of modern smart technology, there are still groups around the nation who are classified as being digitally excluded or lack the necessary skills to utilize technology to benefit their daily lives. In April 2021, the Pew Research Center reported, “7 percent of Americans, approximately 23 million people, do not use the Internet and 23 percent do not have access to a broadband connection at home.” Access to skills and competencies associated with navigating the digital world and unlocking jobs powered by tech also falls within the digital divide. Another older Pew Research has reported only 17 percent of adults are confident in their ability to use digital tools to pursue learning.

Needless to say, it is an economic imperative to ensure the digital literacy divide is bridged. Harvard Business Review observed, …women and minorities may be “hardest hit” in the pandemic, possibly because they are more likely to hold jobs in industries, such as retail, hospitality, recreation, and manufacturing, which are at an increased risk of layoffs.” The May 8, 2020 Labor Department report shows that Blacks and Hispanics have the highest unemployment rates in the country, and women have a higher unemployment rate than men. While 13 percent of White respondents have already skipped paying a bill, that is true for 37 percent of Black/AfricanAmerican respondents and 39 percent of Hispanic/Latino respondents, according to a recent poll by Data for Progress.

As a result of the aggressive spread of COVID-19 and its continuing power to wreak havoc in our communities, we have been exploring innovative ways to center the young women we serve so that they have the tools and bandwidth to stay strong, stay focused and stay engaged. We are zeroing in on the intersection of economic disparities arising from inequalities on one hand and opportunities leading to exploring one’s full potential with reskilling and up-skilling of technical talent on the other.

Focusing on the root cause and leaning on our proven track record, our current task is to remove the multiple barriers that undermine the earning potential and economic stability of young women of color, young women with limited financial abilities, and young women who are new Americans and from rural communities with limited essential resources.

Our project will focus on implementing handson, project-based and immersive virtual training programs which will equip participants with practical and employable skills. This transition to a digital learning platform will be supported by solid curriculum and software industry professionals as mentors helping build an entrepreneurial mindset, leadership traits and technical skills.

About uCodeGirl

The vision of uCodeGirl is to inspire and equip young women to become the future face of innovation in technology. uCodeGirl is uniquely designed to inspire, engage and equip young women with computational design thinking skills, leadership traits, and an entrepreneurial mindset. uCodeGirl strives to remove roadblocks and bridge the gender gap in technology so that young women can confidently pursue opportunities suitable for the 21st century. By building confidence, enhancing skill sets and tapping into their intellect and curiosity, uCodeGirl helps young women chart a pathway to the T of STEM careers.

More information here:
Instagram: @ucodegirl
Facebook: /ucodegirl

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