Professor Ridhi Kashyap works with UNICEF to highlight digital gender gaps

Professor Ridhi Kashyap works with UNICEF to highlight digital gender gaps


Ridhi Kashyap

The work of the Department's Professor Ridhi Kashyap, along with Professor Ingmar Weber of Saarland University, uses big data to measure global gender gaps in internet and mobile access.

When looking to study the social impacts of digital transformations, Professor Kashyap found that many censuses and surveys don't collect information about digital connectivity - making it difficult to know how different age and gender groups access and use digital technology around the world.

Using the demographic data collected about users by social media platforms such as Facebook, Professor Kashyap and Professor Weber were able to work out who was going online, and where.

Using this data source, the two professors developed, which shows real-time estimates of mobile and internet connectivity gender gaps across the world.

The resource shows how women in South Asia, the Middle East and Sub-Saharan Africa are much less likely to be online or to own mobile phones.

Research suggests that more than 50% of the world's women are offline. Roughly 393 million adult women in low- and middle-income countries do not own mobile phones, and globally, women are 8% less likely to own a mobile phone than men.

Gender equality in internet and mobile phone access, along with improving digital literacy, are important targets within the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Acknowledging the tremendous and wide-ranging potential of these technologies, SDG 5 - which aims to achieve gender equality - pledges to “enhance the use of enabling technology, in particular information and communication technology, to promote the empowerment of women”.

The real-time information gathered from is vital in showing any progress made towards achieving SDG 5. Findings are regularly shared with the SDGs Today portal, which curates information about global sustainable development and tracks progress towards achieving the SDGs by 2030.

However, the community of knowledge about the gender digital divide is still overwhelmingly focused on adult women, leaving a significant knowledge gap regarding the digital reality for today’s generation of girls.

Professor Kashyap and Professor Weber connected with UNICEF, who are particularly interested in learning more about the digital behaviours of girls under the age of 18.

Together, they produced the report ‘Using Big Data for Insights Into the Gender Digital Divide for Girls’, which utilised user information from Facebook and Snapchat to collate data about girls aged 13-17.

The report found that there is a global gender digital divide for adolescent girls that echoes the patterns seen in adult women. More boys are online than girls at a global level, and the gap is larger in low- and middle-income countries.

The report concluded: 

Big data is useful because we can potentially use it to track longitudinal changes, and measure how the gender digital divide for adolescent girls is changing over time.

Read more on the Social Sciences Division website

Read the UNICEF report ‘Using Big Data for Insights Into the Gender Digital Divide for Girls’