Women in ICT Feature

For the longest time, Information and Communications Technology (ICT) has been perceived as a field more suitable for males. This notion, however, has changed significantly in the last few decades as more women successfully broke into this male-dominated field and managed to grow and thrive professionally. In fact, many of them left notable contributions that helped in the advancement of ICT in the Philippines.

At present, many female employees of the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) are making their own mark in the ICT field. One of them is Attorney Florence Contreras, Officer-in-Charge (OIC) Division Chief of the Department’s Legal Affairs Division (LAD).

OIC Division Chief Contreras graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Commerce degree from the University of Santo Tomas in 2010. In 2015, she finished her Juris Doctor degree at the Ateneo de Manila School of Law and passed the Philippine Bar Examination in 2016. She practiced law for a few years before joining the DICT in 2019 as a consultant. In 2020, she was designated as OIC Division Chief of Legal Affairs Division.

“ICT is an emerging sector in the Philippines. Considering that the world today is a digital one and technology touches on every aspect of our businesses and personal lives, a career in the field of ICT is replete with opportunities to learn and grow and the application of law in ICT is unlikely to become stagnant. Practicing law in this sector can be challenging, exciting, and fulfilling. In fact, it will only become more and more important as new technologies emerge,” she explained.

During her time with the DICT, she has contributed significantly to the formulation and development of the Policy on Shared Passive Telecommunications Tower Infrastructure (PTTI) and its related issuances, or more commonly referred to as the Common Tower Policy.

The Common Tower Policy is one of the major connectivity initiatives of the DICT. It is expected to widen the base of common towers and speed up the deployment of Internet across the country as it allows and encourages telcos and Internet service providers to share cell towers.

OIC Division Chief Contreras emphasized the importance of engaging more women in the field of ICT as gender diversity produces benefits and positive impacts.

“Various studies show that gender diversity benefits any organization. Skills of ICT specialists are not determined by their gender. Furthermore, getting more women in the ICT sector can help break the cycle of this male-dominated industry and can ensure inclusivity in the development of technology, as well as economic opportunities.”

In addition, she explained that new challenges on digitalization brought by the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic demand for an increase in “digital skills and ICT specialists, regardless of gender, for the implementation of the government’s various ICT initiatives, plans, and programs.”

“The country is in the midst of digitalization and the government is currently taking an active role in fostering policies to adopt digital technologies, reduce the digital divide, and accelerate the digitalization of the country. It is now apparent that women who choose careers in ICT can contribute to the betterment of the society,” she explained.

“I urge women to challenge themselves and show the world that women can also excel in a historically male-dominated industry. There are endless opportunities in the field of ICT, both locally and abroad. Let us fill the world with stories of great women that shaped the next chapter of the ICT industry. Aspire to be the role models for young girls to pursue career in ICT and let’s do our part to help change the world for the better,” she added.