Women in ICT Feature

For years, the Department of Information and Communications Technology’s (DICT’s) Technology for Education, Employment, Entrepreneurs, and Economic Development (Tech4ED) Program has empowered many Filipinos in vulnerable communities with various digital opportunities for growth and development. With the ongoing health crisis in the country, the program continues to aid many Filipinos in transitioning and adopting to the new normal.

Behind the success of the Tech4ED program are dedicated advocates for countryside development from the DICT – Officer-in-Charge (OIC) Director Amelia Dean is one among them.

OIC Director Dean is a licensed Civil Engineer with a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from the University of the Philippines. A public servant for almost 32 years, she started her career at the age of 23 as a Civil Engineering Assistant of the Regional Telecommunications Development Project Phase B (RTDP-Phase B), formerly known as the Department of Transportation and Communications – Special Telecommunications Project Management Office (DOTC-STPMO). She assisted Telecom Engineers in developing relay stations, building and maintaining power houses, erecting towers and other telecommunications-related infrastructure.

“Young as I was, I enjoyed field assignments, travelling to rural areas, trailing mountains and climbing towers as we checked stability of old and newly built infrastructures. Most of the time, locals worry about me being the only woman in the company of five to fifteen male engineers and workers because we usually stay in transient dwellings for field workers, with no private rooms for females like myself. Just bed foams on the floor,” she recounted.

“The experience was scary, unforgettable and amazing. From then on, I felt the drive to continue climbing, striving and working in this exciting and rewarding field of ICT.”

Working for the then Department of Science and Technology (DOST) – Information and Communications Technology Office (ICTO), OIC Director Dean served as Division Chief of CIO Services and External Resources Management Division (CIO SERM) from 2015 to 2016.

When DICT was established in 2016, she served in the same position as Division Chief of CIO SERM and also concurrently served as Assistant Project Manager for Tech4ED in the same year. In 2018, she was appointed as OIC Director of the DICT’s Regional Operations Coordination Service (ROCS) and as Project Manager for Tech4ED.

“My proudest accomplishment is being able to manage the implementation of Tech4ED at the regional level from 2017 to mid of 2020. With the assistance and leadership of our Regional Cluster Directors, we were able to launch 1,278 Tech4ED Center nationwide covering 100% of provinces, 88% of cities, and 65% of municipalities in 2019.”

During her time as lead of Tech4ED, the Mobile Tech4ED Center named “Bangkarunungan” was launched. “Bangkarunungan” is the first roving bangka aimed at bringing digital literacy in coastal areas and in far-flung island communities. This mobile center currently operates to penetrate hard to reach areas in Caramoan province.

Likewise, Tech4ED was able to provide learning opportunities and ICT services to Persons Deprived of Liberty (PDLs) in 2019. Eight Tech4ED centers were established inside the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) throughout the country.

OIC Director Dean said that being able to contribute in countryside development brings her joy and fulfillment.

“This is where help is needed. The results are immediate. You can readily see the smiles in the faces and most of the time tears of joy from your project beneficiaries.”

She hopes the government, through the DICT, will continue to support and develop high-impact initiatives that will foster inclusive growth and development in the country, particularly in remote and vulnerable areas.

“In the new normal where everything that we do have gone digital, the country should give priority in building infrastructure that will support the provision of connectivity to the remotest area. Once everyone can be provided access to the Internet, where information and opportunities are limitless, inclusive growth and development in the countryside can be achieved,” she explained.

As one of the accomplished women of DICT, OIC Director Dean believes that women can play an important role in the field of information and communications technology.

“Gender stereotyping, I believe, is still very true in this day and age. Some people, especially the old-fashioned ones, still believe that women does not have the strength, courage and talent to play with math, tinker with codes, machines and devices, and to climb up towers,” she explained.

To aspiring women who wish to pursue a career in ICT, her message is:

“You can be part of the design if you are creative and analytic. If you enjoy programming and coding, the development arena is waiting for you. If you are a social person and can motivate and teach, then you can be one of those who are training and capacitating other women with knowledge and skills in the use of ICT. If you are instinctive and strategic, then you can be one of the very successful CIOs or ICT leaders globally. The opportunities and ICT tools to help you out are vast and limitless. Any field you chose, I swear will be truly rewarding,”