Bridging the Gender Gap in Education through Digital Technologies


One of the forms of discrimination against girls and women that impact their lives the most is depriving them of fair education opportunities. Lack of access to the minimum levels of education has a great impact on girls’ and women’s lack of awareness that allows them to pursue better lives. This also makes them more vulnerable to other forms of discrimination against them, especially violence in physical and emotional forms.

The absence of resources that could foster a deeper understanding of the world contributes to an internalized sense of inferiority to men. This, in turn, leads women to adopt typical stereotypes reinforcing men’s superiority, which makes women unable to realize their real potential. Lack of education opportunities beyond elementary education deprives women of employment opportunities and financial independence, thus reinforcing the domination of men in their lives over their destinies.

Although statistics show that there is considerable progress in closing the gender gap in access to education services around the world, this gap is still quite wide. According to a report by UNESCO, the gap in enlisting for primary education has narrowed by 50% since 1995. There was also some progress in states’ commitment to girls’ right to education.

However, there still are gaps and challenges to guaranteeing gender equality in access to education with acceptable quality for all girls and women. Worldwide, there still are 130 million girls 6-17 years old outside formal education. In low-income countries, only one of every three girls completes secondary education.

This paper aims to offer a comprehensive understanding of the role digital technologies play in bridging the gender gap in education. It begins by analyzing the limitations of conventional methods in addressing this issue. Subsequently, it explores how digital technologies empower girls and women to exercise their right to education. Furthermore, the paper showcases exemplary domestic and international projects along with various organizations leveraging digital technologies to promote inclusive education for girls and ensure equitable access to educational opportunities, particularly in developing and low-income countries.

The Gender Gap in Education

The previously mentioned UNESCO report shows that in sub-Saharan Africa, there are still 123 girls deprived of their right to education for every 100 boys out of school. While technical and vocational education programs account for about 22% of post-secondary education globally, girls’ share of enrollment in these programs is 43% worldwide. Girls enrolled in such programs range from 32% in Central and South Asia to 50% in Latin America. In university education programs, female students account for a mere 25% of the total enrollment in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). These STEM fields are witnessing a rapid increase in their significance in today’s world.

Achievement of educational inclusiveness that can bridge the gender gap in education is quite difficult when depending only on conventional means. This explains that decades of international and domestic efforts in many countries were not successful in bridging this gap. Conventional methods require a lot of resources. For developing countries, such resources are very limited. Accordingly, efficient use of the little available of these resources directs the policies of these countries toward strategies that are unfair to marginalized social groups, especially women.

Resources are directed to the most densely populated areas, namely large cities. This reinforces the deprivation from education for women in rural and remote areas, adding to cultural factors that usually have more weight in such areas. Additionally, resources tend to be channeled towards vocational education, designed to train individuals for professions in demand in the job market. This focus tends to favor educating boys more significantly, reflecting the inherent bias in labor markets towards the employment of men.

The emergence of digital technologies presents a promising alternative to conventional methods for addressing the gender gap in education. Particularly noteworthy is their ability to transcend the constraints of physical location and resource availability. The inherent characteristics of communication and information technologies enable them to surpass geographic barriers, delivering tools and resources to previously unreachable areas. Moreover, the cost-effectiveness of these technologies makes them a viable option for promoting gender equality in education. Recent years have showcased the significant role that digital technologies can play in bridging this gap.

In the context of this paper the term “Digital Technologies” is used to refer to a wide range of technologies that are not limited only to those related to the Internet. This includes computers of different kinds, but it also expands to different electronic devices and equipment that can be used as helping means and tools in education processes.

This doesn’t deny that most technologies discussed in this paper are related to the opportunities made available by the Internet and the devices capable of connecting to it. Seeking to beat obstacles denying girls and women access to fair opportunities of education also requires going over the obstacle of inability to connect to the Internet in the most isolated and resource-hungry areas in the world where a large percentage of women and girls live.

Issues of Conventional Methods

To understand the advantages of using digital technologies for bridging the gender gap in education, the issues limiting the ability of conventional methods to deal with this gap should be discussed first. These issues overlap and intersect with each other. However, in the following discussion, they are categorized under three main titles.


All conventional methods require direct physical access, necessitating either the service or its beneficiaries to physically move to the same location. For instance, daily school attendance and participation in various educational activities exemplify this scenario.

In the first instance, bringing the service to the beneficiaries requires the construction of an adequate number of schools equipped with the necessary facilities. These facilities include human resources such as teachers, administrative personnel, and support staff. Additionally, ongoing operational costs for these schools must be factored in.

Accordingly, in developing countries, executive bodies prioritize providing education services in densely populated areas. They believe that this approach will yield the highest return on investment, as it allows them to reach the most significant number of students with fewer cost.

Consequently, education services are unfairly distributed. In regions with lower population densities, such as rural and remote areas, education services are often spread across vast distances. This geographic dispersion results in significant physical separation between the majority of the population they serve and the actual locations of these services.

The costs mentioned previously, in many cases, go beyond the limited resources of most developing countries. The costs of establishment and operation of services needed in rural and remote areas are higher while the return is less.

Moreover, existing cultural customs and traditions pose additional challenges in the delivery of educational services to girls. Frequently, these services need to be offered in distinct facilities separate from those catering to boys, as cultural norms mandate the segregation of genders.

Additionally, girls who wish to access educational services often face the necessity of leaving their homes daily to attend school, exposing them to interactions with males on the way, during transportation, and within the educational institution. This presents a challenge, as adherence to traditions in many conservative communities raises concerns, leading numerous families to be hesitant about sending their daughters to schools, particularly if the schools are located far from home.


Training teachers is costly for low-income countries, especially if they aim to provide education to all who need it. Once again, social and cultural norms and traditions prevailing in some communities add to these burdens. Some traditions require maintaining separate establishments for training female teachers to keep the segregation of genders in higher education.

On the other side, with fewer female students in specialized colleges and institutes, it is difficult to provide enough female teachers in different fields required by secondary schools. Providing on-the-job training to teachers constitutes a financial burden as well because of its high costs. 

The ratio of female teachers who benefit from this training is low due to the social burdens they have to shoulder in traditional societies. Their families may refuse to let them take such training, especially if it requires traveling somewhere inside the same country or abroad. Tackling these obstacles may incur extra costs to guarantee socially acceptable conditions for female teachers to be trained.

Education facilities also need to provide psychological support services for girls besides educational services due to the high rate of violence against girls and women in most societies. The high costs of such services lead to them either being limited, completely absent, or in many cases not being considered in the first place.

Moreover, the financial burden of educating daughters is a major challenge for families, particularly in impoverished communities. This is especially true in rural and remote areas, where the cost of sending girls to school is exacerbated by geographical remoteness and the subsequent higher transportation costs.

In some cases, girls are required to travel to other towns to continue their education, necessitating the additional expense of accommodation in hostels or other facilities.

Lack of flexibility

Conventional methods for providing education services lack flexibility in general. They rely on fixed-location facilities and funding policies that prioritize resource allocation to provide generalized services that cater only to the most basic needs of the target audience.

On another side, and rather implicitly though real, these services are designed and planned on the basis that their targets are predominantly or even exclusively males. This happens without being premeditated as a result of prevalent inherited culture. Under such circumstances, the different needs of girls are generally ignored.

Conventional methods for providing education services often overlook or inadequately address the unique needs of girls in rural and conservative communities. These methods do not have enough flexibility to provide education services in forms that penetrate through the social isolation forced upon girls and women in some communities.

Moreover, these methods overlook the challenges faced by girls who must balance their education with household responsibilities, such as assisting with housework. This limitation on available time for attending classes means that these girls cannot keep pace with the curriculum designed for students without additional responsibilities, hampering their ability to pursue their studies at the expected rate.

How Digital Technologies Overcome Issues of Conventional Methods

Digital technologies are radically different from the conventional methods of providing education services. While the latter fails to deal efficiently with the gender gap in education, digital technologies can succeed in achieving considerable progress in bridging this gap. In the following section, the paper discusses a number of the innovation aspects made available by using digital technologies for providing education services.


There are several methods to provide education services using digital technologies. Some of these methods may need nothing more than creating a website on the Internet that any person connected to the network can reach. 

In most cases, there is no need to provide a connection to the Internet to the audience of an education service, as most of them are already connected. While the ideal situation is that the one benefiting from the education service reaches it using a desktop or laptop computer, achieving this through a smartphone is still enough for most purposes.

With the remarkable ability of modern communication technologies to transcend geographical barriers, there are virtually no locations that education services cannot reach in theory. However, in instances where the necessary infrastructure for network connectivity is lacking or inadequate in terms of quality and stability, digital technologies offer alternative means to ensure that girls and women can still access the education they require.

For service users with access to any type of computer, portable storage media containing digital educational resources can be shipped to them. These storage devices can reach users anywhere in the world.

Alternatively, in scenarios where computer access is limited or unavailable, users can be provided with low-cost tablet computers that come pre-loaded with educational content.

Not only can digital technologies get over geographic obstacles to reach girls and women anywhere in the world, but they also can get over social and cultural obstacles. Digital technologies can provide education services to any girl or woman inside their homes.


At its most basic level, the expense associated with delivering education services through digital technologies might be as minimal as creating a website and uploading educational content that can be accessed freely. This cost, naturally, is incomparable to the construction expenses of a traditional school anywhere globally. 

Conversely, the potential returns could far surpass those of building a physical school. In theory, a website can extend its services to an unlimited number of girls and women across the globe.

The potential of a single educational platform to reach millions of people worldwide is limitless. Consequently, investing in the platform’s different resources remains cost-effective because the return is substantially higher than the investment. Furthermore, the cost of providing resources for a digital educational platform operating online is comparatively lower than conventional methods.

This is because these resources do not need to expand significantly as the number of service beneficiaries increases. For instance, adding a new course may not require more than using the services of one teacher to record the educational content needed for this course only once. After that, the content may be used to provide this course to an unlimited number of students and for an unlimited period of time.

There is nothing that limits the use of digital technologies to low-cost solutions. Their potential to reach large numbers of students attracts parties concerned with bridging the gender gap in education greatly. The parties may provide suitable funding that allows covering the provision of more services, raising the quality of the educational content, and providing the technical resources needed for expanding the provision of these services with no problems.


The use of digital technologies allows high flexibility for education services that target girls and women in different geographic locations and social, economic, and cultural conditions. These services can adjust both the educational content they provide and its rate, timing, and form to adapt to an endless number of factors. 

This flexibility is suitable for providing content for the different needs and conditions of girls and women. In other words, digital technologies allow the possibility of unlimited customization of content and tools.

Girls and women using one of the education services provided through digital technologies can access the educational content at any time and at any rate that suits their conditions. Thus, the limited time available for study and its allocation throughout the day are no longer obstacles stopping girls and women from continuing their education.

The flexibility provided by digital technologies expands to the educational content depending on them. This flexibility allows content to vary and adapt to several aspects of differences among the conditions of girls and women. For instance, the same content may be provided in different languages.

Quality of service

The use of digital technologies in providing education services opens a large field for working on raising the quality of these services. There are, for instance, no obstacles to reaching human resources with higher training standards and the best in terms of knowledge and skills. The same goes for the best curricula and provision of helping content like books and others.

Digital technologies add many potentials for raising the quality of education services to go beyond what can be achieved by conventional methods, even under ideal conditions. These technologies allow the offering of educational content in innovative forms such as multi-media, that is depending on visual, audio, and video as well as interactive media like games.

Connecting, networking, mentorship, and mutual support

Education services depending on digital technologies offer the possibility of communication among girls and women who use them, crossing geographic, social, and cultural boundaries. This allows such services to support girls and women augmenting their education by adding human and social dimensions to the education process. Girls and women can exchange information and experiences. They can also cooperate in group educational projects, and in forming mutual-support networks.

Digital communication technologies offer girls and women insight into successful female role models. Direct communication with these women can inspire girls to continue their education and set ambitious career goals that transcend the limitations imposed by their social environments.

Additionally, successful women can volunteer as mentors through mentorship programs, providing girls with emotional, educational, and even financial support. These programs can offer scholarships and practical training opportunities, empowering girls to achieve their full potential.

Examples of Projects and Organizations Relying on Digital Technologies

There are many projects that exploit the potential of digital technologies to help bridge the gender gap in education and provide education services to girls in developing countries. Below are some examples of these projects, noting that some are not specifically geared toward girls. But because digital projects can reach more girls and women, they help bridge the educational gap between females and males.

  • iMlango Project: This project operates in Kenya. The project combines teaching using tablets, interactive guidance through radio, and teacher training to improve reading and mathematics skills among primary school students, with a special focus on girls. The project also provides assistance to girls to continue their education beyond primary school.
  • 2. TARA Akshar+: This project operates in India. The project provides basic reading and arithmetic skills training to women in rural areas using tablets and smartphone applications. The app includes interactive lessons, quizzes, and games. The application also allows women to learn at the rate of progress that suits them and according to timetables that suit their circumstances.
  • eLimu: This project operates in Kenya. The project uses tablets and interactive content to improve educational outcomes among primary school students. The content provided includes games, videos and quizzes and is designed to be engaging and interactive with a focus on making learning fun and easy for all students.
  • Digital StudyHall: This project operates in India. The project provides digital content and training to teachers to improve education outcomes in rural areas. Content is delivered through low-cost portable devices such as projectors and USB drives. The project is designed to be accessible even in areas with limited or no Internet access.
  • Camfed: An international non-profit organization that works to improve education and empower girls in rural communities in Africa. The organization uses a comprehensive approach that includes providing scholarships, teacher training and sponsorship, as well as investing in digital technology to enable access to information and resources.
  • Worldreader: A non-profit organization that provides access to digital books and learning resources for the basics of reading for children and families in low-income communities around the world. The organization partners with local organizations and governments to distribute e-readers and tablets preloaded with books and educational content.
  • She’s the First: A non-profit organization that works to advance girls’ education and gender equality around the world. The organization partners with local organizations and schools to provide scholarships, sponsorship programs, and leadership training to girls with a focus on investing in digital technologies to connect and empower girls.
  • Digital Promise Global: A non-profit organization that works to improve education through technology and innovation. The organization’s programs include teacher training, research, and development of new educational technologies.


This paper has sought to provide a general overview of the gender gap in education and the possibilities provided by digital technologies for bridging it. The paper has shown the issues that conventional methods of providing education services suffer from and the causes of their failure. It has also discussed how digital technologies can offer a successful alternative, promising better outcomes in bridging the gender gap in education.

The paper has also discussed the advantages of digital technologies being able to create new means for improving education services, allowing them to provide education opportunities for girls and women deprived of them all over the world. Finally, the paper has presented several examples of international and local projects and organization that rely on digital technologies in their work for bridging the gender gap in education.

The path for the current efforts seeking to bridge the gender gap in education is still long. It also should be noted that such efforts, no matter how efficient they might be through relying on digital technologies, still can’t achieve this goal on their own. It is necessary to combat the prevalent stereotypes that reproduce the social biases that justify the perpetuation of discrimination against women and girls in the field of education and in other aspects of life.

 In conclusion, the aspiration to change the status quo of discrimination against women should rely on a comprehensive vision that takes into consideration all the factors leading to the perpetuation of this discrimination so that it is possible to go beyond this reality to a future in which equality and justice for all are attained.