FET focuses on research beyond what is known, accepted or widely adopted and supports novel and visionary thinking to open promising paths towards powerful new technologies. FET seeks for genuine cross-fertilisation and deep synergies between the broadest range of advanced sciences and cutting-edge engineering disciplines.

Future and emerging technologies can have a profound impact on our lives and society. Therefore, the Social Sciences and Humanities (SSH) play an important role in the multi-disciplinary research supported by FET. Attention will be given also to Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI), including the gender aspects of appreciation of emerging technologies, thus contributing to a more sustainable future and to a society that is supportive of research.

Specific actions will increase the impact on education. For example, through new academic curricula giving inspiration around FET topics to high-school students, entrepreneurship courses, gender and ethics courses, and training opportunities for industry1.

Mobile use

Mobile technology is often considered gender neutral – although the different uses, structures and cultures associated with mobile technology are not gender neutral. Gender (in)balanced access to mobile technology has implications for ensuring equal access to opportunities for political discourse, economic empowerment and civil society participation which increase social inclusion. 

When it comes to mobile use2, women tend to experience certain barriers more acutely than men:

1. Cost is the most important barrier to mobile phone ownership and use. Women tend to cite handset and credit cost as a barrier more commonly than men. Cost is a greater barrier for women because they are often less financially independent. Women tend to have more basic phones. Lower priced handsets will disproportionately benefit women.

2. Network quality and coverage is the second most important barrier overall, and is an issue in both rural and urban areas. Women may perceive network quality and coverage as a greater barrier than men because of mobility constraints, more basic handsets, and fewer SIMs to choose from3.

3. Security and harassment is the third most important overall barrier. Security is usually a greater barrier for women. Harassment from strangers is usually a greater barrier for women

4. Technical literacy and confidence is usually a greater barrier for women. Women are often less educated than men, which contributes to technical literacy challenges. Women are often less confident with technology than men. Well-designed services or handsets in familiar languages can often be more accessible for diverse users in terms of literacy and self confidence in technology use.

5. [Gender] Social norms are an underlying, ‘hidden’ barrier to women accessing and using mobile phones4. For example, the social norms in many countries of girls receiving less education than boys, marrying early, and becoming predominantly homemakers contributes to women having less individual income than their male counterparts. Social norms influence women’s mobile purchasing decisions.

The opportunity: Ensuring women have access to and can use mobile Phones, besides being a good market opportunity, helps women feel safer, more connected, save time and money, and can increase education and employment opportunities

Source: GSMA. 2015. Bridging the gender gap: Mobile access and usage in low and middle-income countries


  • 1. Source: H2020-AG-GENDER (2015), p. 13
  • 2. Study conducted in 11 developing countries, Niger, India, DRG, Mexico, Indonesia, China, Turkey, Kenia, Colombia, Egypt, Jordan.
  • 3. Mobile services help women feel safe and avoid harassment: The case of Fightback (www.fightbackmobile.com) in India, Banglalink Emergency in Bangladesh, and Mobinil’s Call Block service in Egypt: Innovative mobile services can help women perceive mobile phones as a tool for improving safety and peace of mind. In India, the app ‘FightBack’ enables users to instantly send an alert in an emergency. By pressing a simple button (and then confirming), SOS SMS and emails, GPS coordinates, and location maps are automatically sent to preselected contacts. The app has had more than 100,000 downloads and is now available in 22 Indian states and 81 countries worldwide.
  • 4. These gender norms are the root of the above mentioned barriers.