Women in ICT

Digital transformation holds the promise of better public services and more opportunities for all Filipinos. That is why the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) has been diligently working towards its vision of a Digital Philippines for all Filipinos since its establishment in 2016.

ICT, however, is a double-edged sword. With advantages and benefits, ICT also comes with threats, risks and an increasing digital divide affecting the most vulnerable sectors of society. These problems are what DICT’s Policy Management, Coordination and Advocacy Division Chief Madonna Nuqui hopes to help address. 

“My deep passion is public service. I love working with people and for the people, particularly towards the protection of children and young people, women, and others in the vulnerable sectors. I pursued a career in the field of ICT because it is challenging, innovative and incredibly vast – it made me realize that I could marry my passion with an innovative industry to ensure that our needs will be taken into consideration in the development of technology and formulation of related policies and legislations,” she explained.

Division Chief Nuqui has a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science, a Master’s in Public Management, and a Juris Doctor degree.

Working in the government sector for 30 years, she started her career as a Community Information Officer in one of the local government units in the province of Samar before becoming a Special Investigator of the then Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC)-Telecommunications Office Legal Division (now Department of Transportation).

She also worked in the field of policy making and other ICT-related areas of concern, with the former Information and Communications Technology Office (ICTO) and is still doing the same with the DICT.

Division Chief Nuqui said being able to lead and assist in drafting and formulating various DICT policy initiatives and policy documents (Child Online Safeguarding Policy, Social Media Policy, Gender Mainstreaming, Cloud Computing Policy and others), national legislations and their implementing rules and regulations (Cybercrime Prevention Act, Safe Spaces Act, Free Internet in Public Places Act, Community-Based Monitoring Systems Act and many others) and other policy-related endeavors are what she considers her most pertinent accomplishments in DICT. However, she revealed that the Child Online Safeguarding Policy is what she considers her proudest work.

“It is the fruitful realization of combining my passion for safeguarding the vulnerable with the capabilities and innovations of ICT. I am honored to have had the opportunity to work on the Policy together with some officials and employees of the DICT, IACACP, child online protection advocates and various stakeholders.”

She added that the Social Media Policy is pending at the Office of the Legal Affairs in Malacañang.

“I am looking forward to its approval at the soonest, as it is really needed at this time that all government agencies, officials and employees are using the social media platform.”

Moving forward, Division Chief Nuqui said she will continue to work and be a part of DICT initiatives aimed at harnessing ICT to advance and unleash the power and potential of children, girls and women, and all Filipinos.

“Technology is a friend that provides avenues for a nation to thrive, given the proper safeguards. We will all work together in coming up with comprehensive and inclusive plans and policies, programs and projects to accompany our vision towards an ‘innovative, safe and happy nation that thrives through and is enabled by Information and Communications Technology’.”

An advocate of bridging digital gender divide, Division Chief Nuqui highlighted the importance of engaging more women in the field of ICT. She said it is an opportunity for women to have roles in a field that plays a vital part in developing the future.

“Women make up around half of the Filipino population – it is vital that we are involved in such career fields so that our unique perspectives, experiences, and challenges are represented,” she explained. “Women are brimming with skills, talents and potential. Unblocking the barriers to their enormous opportunities in the ICT world will surely turn their dreams into reality.”

Division Chief Nuqui cited gender stereotypes as one of the main reasons why few women feel encouraged in pursuing a career in ICT.

“ICT and other STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) fields are traditionally perceived as masculine. There are times when parents, teachers, and other people of similar influence may underestimate girls’ abilities versus their male peers’ or siblings’. These stereotypes perpetuate into careers where these fields remain male-dominated and highlight very few female leaders or role-models to inspire other women and young girls.”

To address this problem, she said change should start in homes and schools. She said that parents should give their daughters as much educational encouragement and belief in their aptitudes as they do with their sons.

“We need to foster a growth mindset in young girls and celebrate female role models where they shine, especially in male-dominated fields.”

Likewise, she explained that Filipinos must also need to foster welcoming work environments where policies that establish equality and inclusivity are implemented.

Division Chief Nuqui encourages aspiring women in ICT to rise above gender stereotypes and take full ownership of their lives and future.

“Pursuing a career in a male-dominated field will not be easy. There will be times when your methods, ideas, and capabilities are questioned because they deviate from the masculine status-quo. But if you feel that a career in ICT or any other traditionally non-female field is your passion, don’t quit,” she said.

“Keep going because you do have what it takes, you are writing your own story. Your values, way of thinking, and empowerment as a woman matter. Keep going because someday, a young girl will look at you and understand that she can do it too.”