The Role of the ICT Sector in Empowering Egyptian Women


The information and communications technology (ICT) sector might be the most important economic sector in our world today. The ICT sector’s significance is not solely derived from its rapid growth, which makes it a substantial contributor to the global economy’s overall volume. It also holds importance due to two other factors:

The first reason is that the ICT sector is the fastest-evolving sector. This means it is responsible for creating economic and social changes with the greatest impact on our world today. The second reason is that the ICT sector intersects with every other economic sector by providing the technologies such a sector depends on for its evolution and entry into the digital world.

Given its importance, the ICT sector is undoubtedly a major engine for development. Accordingly, world countries, especially developing ones, seek to maximize their contribution to economic growth and achieve their social development goals. This includes empowering women and bridging the gender gap.

Egypt is not different from other developing countries in the main outlines of this framework. However, like any other country, Egypt has its own political, economic, and social conditions that affect the potential of the ICT sector’s growth. These conditions also affect the sector’s potential contribution to supporting Egyptian women’s empowerment and helping to bridge the gender gap in Egyptian society.

This paper explores Egypt’s ICT sector’s potential to economically empower Egyptian women. It focuses on how the sector can create more employment opportunities for women. Additionally, the paper discusses the potential of the ICT sector to socially empower women, which can further contribute to narrowing the gender gap.

The paper covers the importance of this sector within the framework of seeking to empower Egyptian women economically and socially. It also provides an overview of the current status of Egyptian women’s contribution to the ICT sector. Finally, the paper discusses the factors that make the sector suitable for growing women’s contribution and the obstacles and challenges this contribution faces.

The Importance of the ICT Sector for Empowering Women

Economic empowerment of women is a fundamental avenue for achieving women’s overall empowerment and social equality with men. Providing women with economic independence and breaking free from the cycle of dependency is essential for combating discrimination against them. For most women, economic empowerment primarily comes from employment opportunities rather than other means, such as entrepreneurship or inheritable wealth, which are not widely accessible.

The following points explain the importance of the ICT sector in promoting women’s economic empowerment opportunities. The sector contributes to this by creating jobs and balancing these with the jobs it lead to their disappearance. It also helps balance employment opportunities in the private sector in particular.

ICT Sector’s Growth Opportunities

According to the Information Technology Industry Development Agency (ITIDA), the ICT sector is the fastest-growing sector in the Egyptian economy. It grew at a rate of 17.6% in the 2021/22 fiscal year, surpassing all other sectors. The sector also provides 280,000 jobs, over 30% of which are for women. Additionally, the sector’s exports reached $4.8 billion in 2021/22.

The fast growth of the ICT sector makes it a very important one for seeking to empower Egyptian women economically. This growth is necessarily accompanied by a rise in employment opportunities offered by the sector. It has opened more employment opportunities for women, especially since the ICT sector has the highest ratio of women employment among economic sectors in Egypt. The ICT sector is the only sector where women’s employment grows while it is shrinking in other sectors on a yearly basis.

Beyond being a significant driver of economic growth, the ICT sector offers substantial opportunities for women’s participation in the job market. Given the sector’s rapid growth and the relatively high proportion of women employed in it compared to other sectors, the number of jobs available to women increases, empowering them to make more remarkable contributions to their professional lives.

Furthermore, the growing societal influence of information technology underscores the significance of women’s participation in this field. A significant female presence in the ICT sector allows them to contribute to the development of goods and services offered by this sector, ensuring their equitable representation. This partnership holds great importance in shaping the social transformation led by the sector, aiming to create an environment that is less discriminatory towards women in general.

Striving to increase women’s participation in the ICT sector is not solely aimed at enhancing their financial stability in Egyptian society. It also directly contributes to their social empowerment and the pursuit of gender equality.

Balancing the Negative Impact of the Sector on Jobs Traditionally Available for Women

The growth of the ICT sector doesn’t stop at creating more jobs in the companies and entities working within the sector itself. This growth expands to changing work patterns in all other economic sectors. This happens through the digital transformation process, which modifies the ways many jobs are carried out. It also creates new jobs for IT specialists in every economic sector.

The digital transformation has brought about significant changes in the job market, leading to the disappearance of many traditional jobs. This mainly affects jobs in the assistance field, which may not be directly related to the production sector of each industry. Traditional jobs such as secretary, human resources, and accounting used to provide ample employment opportunities for women. However, the continuous decline in the number of these jobs due to digitalization means fewer employment opportunities for women.

The ICT sector can provide significant employment opportunities for women. Its job-creating capacity surpasses the jobs it eliminates or diminishes, leading to an overall positive impact on employment. Additionally, the sector’s significance goes beyond the jobs created within its specialized companies. It also contributes to job creation in other sectors of the economy, further enhancing its impact on the workforce.

Encouraging more girls to pursue education in ICT fields is crucial to qualify them for rewarding professional careers. By specializing in these career paths, they can unlock a wide range of employment opportunities within the ICT sector and other sectors that increasingly rely on IT specialists.

Balancing Private Sector Job Opportunities for Women

Since the 1990s, successive Egyptian governments have pursued a consistent policy of expanding the private sector’s role in various economic sectors. This policy was primarily implemented through the privatization program, which transferred a significant portion of state-owned economic entities to the private sector.

Privatization had a severe negative impact on Egyptian women’s contribution to the job market. The prevalent cause behind this is the concentration of job opportunities for women, primarily within governmental and public sectors. In these sectors, employment processes are governed by more objective criteria related to job qualifications.

In contrast, private-sector hiring practices are more susceptible to employer preferences. This can lead to a stronger reflection of societal prejudices against women, perpetuating traditional notions that women are inherently less competent than men in the workplace.

The private sector’s lower rates of employing women have led to a significant decline in women’s contribution to the job market in Egypt. This is because the private sector contributes more to the Egyptian economy as a whole compared to the governmental and public sectors, which have higher rates of employing women. 

Unlike all other economic sectors, the ICT sector has a higher rate of employment for women. It is also the only sector where women’s job opportunities increase annually while decreasing in other sectors.

Accordingly, the ICT sector is very important for providing women employment opportunities and economic empowerment. But this is not all. The considerable presence of women in a sector that is very important for the economy as a whole reinforces their social status and proves their competence. This helps defeat the prevalent stereotype and contributes to the efforts to push private sector entities in other economic sectors to change their anti-women employment policies.

Current Status of Women Contribution to the Sector’s

The Size and Rate of Growth

According to a report by the Economic Research Forum (ERF), the job market in Egypt has become increasingly unwelcoming for women throughout the last decades. Women’s contribution to the Egyptian job market has declined continuously from 19.5% in 2009 to 13.7% in 2021. In this period, the total number of working women has declined by 1.1% annually, while the number of women of work age has increased by 2.5% annually.

On the other hand, women’s employment in the ICT sector increased to a complex annual ratio of 6.4%. This led to the fact that among all working women in Egypt, the ratio of those working in the ICT sector doubled from 1% in 2009 to 2.3% in 2021.

These figures include the total (official) Egyptian job market distributed among the private and governmental sectors. In the private sector alone, the number of women working for ICT companies has grown by 10% annually. On the other hand, the number of women working for other economic sectors has declined by 1.4% annually.

The employment of women in the ICT sector offers a solitary beacon of hope in what is otherwise a gloomy landscape of their employment in the Egyptian economy as a whole. Notably, the private sector has experienced steady growth since implementing privatization programs and has been the primary driver of this situation. However, the severe impact on employment opportunities for women in Egypt due to these programs starkly contrasts the positive developments in the ICT sector.

Jobs Types and Gender Distribution Among Them

Almost half of the jobs occupied by women in the ICT sector in the private sector were in data entry, reception, and service centers, compared to only 16% of men working in the sector. In technical support and other technical fields, the ratio of men was almost one-third, compared to only 19% of women.

Men are also employed in higher proportions in working-class jobs, like electricians, mechanics, and assembly. On the other hand, the ratio of men and women in professional jobs, like computer specialists and engineers, is almost equal (18% of women, 20% of men).

A notable aspect of the employment trend in the ICT sector is the increasing proportion of employees with higher educational qualifications. Their ratio has grown from 43% in 2009 to 63% in 2021 in the private sector. Also, the ratio of employees with educational training specialized in ICT has grown from 28% only in 2009 to 37% in 2021.

This growth hasn’t helped improve working conditions in the ICT sector during the recent period. Safe jobs with lawful contracts and social insurance coverage have declined in general, with a higher ratio for women. The highest insurance coverage ratio was attained in 2014, with 67% for men and 60% for women. These rates declined to 59% for men and 47% for women in 2021.

Despite enjoying high rates of growth and profitability compared to other sectors, the wages in the ICT sector are not at a level comparable to its size and profitability, either for men or women. As is the case in other sectors, the wages don’t catch up with the annual inflation rate, which means that real wages are declining all the time. Such a reality in itself may prevent this sector from playing the role it is hoped to play in empowering women through employment opportunities.

Factors of Sector’s Suitability for Growing Women’s Contribution

Flexible Nature of Jobs

A significant portion of jobs within the ICT sector offer increased flexibility compared to other industries. This flexibility encompasses aspects such as working hours, time, and location. Numerous positions in the sector allow employees to adjust the number of working hours, the time of day they work, and even the option to work remotely from home.

This flexibility contributes to the potential of providing more employment opportunities for women. However, due to several social and cultural factors, women still face many obstacles preventing them from seeking employment.

Women in Egypt face restraints on their movement due to social and cultural traditions. Such traditions may be directly enforced by the family or by society in its entirety. Allowing sexual harassment in public areas, means of transportation, and workplaces to grow without facing it decisively and sometimes with explicit societal approval affects women’s ability to seek employment.

On the other hand, working women are required to perform their traditional gender roles in society fully, especially while fully shouldering the burdens of unpaid housework. These pressures and others deprive many women from seeking jobs they are fully qualified to have. Accordingly, any flexibility in the type of jobs available means a potential for women to have a better share of them.

Learning and Training Opportunities

Opportunities for learning and training to acquire skills are considerably available in the ICT sector. One of the essential factors behind this is the state’s interest in supporting the sector’s growth, primarily by providing as many qualified individuals as possible with work opportunities. Numerous initiatives and programs are implemented by international organizations and companies, particularly for girls and women, to offer them opportunities for qualification and employment in the sector.

Reports point out that Egypt has succeeded in achieving noticeable progress in bridging the gender gap in higher education for the STEM fields. Girls represented a ratio of 52% of all the students joining public and private universities in Egypt in 2019. Among a total of 507,000 students in different STEM-related education paths, girls represent 47% of them. The same report cites statistics from 2014 where 48% of those awarded master’s and PhD degrees in Egypt were women.

Potential for surpassing Social and Cultural Obstacles

Women in conservative societies like Egypt face social and cultural obstacles that hinder their ability to contribute more to the job market. The ICT sector enjoys having the means to acquire skills qualifying for employment in it. In addition, the nature of its jobs allows girls and women to circumvent the social and cultural obstacles more than is possible with other sectors.

The ICT sector is inherently the fastest evolving, creating technologies that enable greater communication and access to information. Therefore, it is also the sector that is quickest to initiate the use of these technologies, whether in providing specialized education and training opportunities in its fields of work or in performing its daily tasks. This provides more significant opportunities for education, training, and employment in the sector for women, as they can rely on these means to overcome the social and cultural barriers they face.

Obstacles and Challenges for Women’s Contribution to the ICT Sector

Despite the ICT sector having a relatively higher rate of female employment compared to other sectors, employment opportunities within it still face numerous obstacles and challenges. Addressing these challenges is crucial to maximizing the sector’s potential in empowering women.

The ICT sector is not exempt from the gender-related trends that affect women’s opportunities in the Egyptian workforce. Like other sectors in Egypt, the ICT sector also faces challenges related to job insecurity. Moreover, the continuous technological evolution poses specific threats to job creation in the ICT sector, particularly in roles dominated by women. These concerns will be discussed in detail below.

Bias and Social Discrimination Impact on Employment and Career Progress

While women have a  relatively high employment rate in the ICT sector compared to other sectors, this is particularly true in the public sector. When considering that almost an equal number of women and men are qualified by their education, the representation of women in the ICT sector is still low. In 2020, women made up only 38% of the total employees in the sector.

This clear gap between the number of women qualified to work in the sector and those actually getting jobs in it can’t be explained except by the prevalence of the anti-women employment policies, which reflect the prevalent social discrimination. This discrimination is more reflected in the low ratio of women in middle managerial positions and their almost complete absence in the high ones.

Therefore, a clear pattern of narrowing opportunities for women can be observed. This pattern starts from the stages of education to the job market and progresses from lower to higher levels of employment. Additionally, women have fewer career advancement opportunities than their male counterparts.

Low Job Guarantees

Unsafe jobs represent the largest proportion of those provided by the ICT sector for both men and women. However, unsafe jobs are occupied more by women and with a considerable gap. Lack of job safety is a major obstacle to achieving economic stability for any person. However, women are always more affected by this phenomenon, as the job opportunities available for them are less than for men.

On the other hand, women sometimes have to exert more effort to convince their families to allow them to work in the first place, a burden not faced by men. Such efforts are less likely to succeed when the job opportunity available is less safe. The lack of contractual guarantees or social insurance benefits diminishes the value of the job and makes it harder to persuade the family of its worth.

Technological Advancement Threats

In Egypt’s ICT sector, women predominantly hold jobs in data entry, reception, and call centers. However, these jobs are the most vulnerable to a decline in availability or even complete elimination due to technological advancements that favor the use of AI-driven software alternatives.

These alternatives increasingly provide opportunities for replacing humans with AI programs that can perform different jobs with the same degree of competence or even better and for less cost. This is precisely what makes it almost inevitable that companies in different sectors will use such alternatives in the near future. This threatens a large proportion of jobs currently available to women in the ICT sector.

This challenge demands urgent action through various initiatives, aiming to expand the range of job opportunities available to women in the ICT sector. Concurrently, efforts should be dedicated to diversifying the services offered by this sector to prevent overreliance on low-wage jobs outsourced by multinational corporations. Such jobs currently constitute a significant portion of the services provided by Egyptian companies in this sector.

In order to thrive in the evolving ICT sector, Egypt must prioritize the restructuring of its services, shifting from a consumer-centric approach to a producer-oriented one. To achieve this, educational and training initiatives should be tailored to empower girls and women with the necessary skills and qualifications in this field. This strategic shift will open up a broader range of job opportunities in the ICT sector for women, enabling them to contribute to its growth and success.


Empowering Egyptian women economically is a very important goal, not only within the framework of achieving gender equality and eliminating forms of discrimination against women but also for economic and social development purposes. This paper highlights the crucial and exceptional importance of the ICT sector and its potential to play a significant role in empowering Egyptian women economically.

This paper sought to explain the potential for the ICT sector to play such a role by providing more employment opportunities for women in Egypt. To do this, the paper discussed the importance of this sector compared to other economic sectors in terms of its potential contribution to economically empowering Egyptian women.

The paper then moved to exploring the current status of women’s contribution to the ICT sector in terms of its ratio and distribution among the different job specializations within the sector. The paper has also discussed the factors that make the ICT sector more suitable than others for providing more employment opportunities for women in Egypt, as well as the challenges for this endeavor.

The ICT sector has been the most favorable for the Egyptian state in recent decades. It also enjoys the largest number of initiatives and projects that aim to provide more employment and career progress opportunities for women. While recognizing these efforts, it is important to emphasize that they are still short of accomplishing their goals, which require seeking to double them.