Source: Field Survey data, 2005
Table 1 shows that 73.6 percent of the female researchers are married while 70.4 percent of the female extensionists are married. The findings showed that 58.5 percent of the female researchers are between 35 and 40 years old, with mean age of 38 years while 100% of the female extensionists are between 29 and 34 years old, with mean age of 31 years old. It is obvious that female researchers were relatively older than female extensionists. The study also reveals that 88.7 percent of the female researchers reported that they have work experience of between 3 and 8 years, with average working experience of 6 years, while 100 percent of the female extensionists reported work experience of between 3 and 8 years, with mean work experience of 4 years suggesting that female researchers had relatively higher working experience than female extensionists. Findings further showed 89.6 percent of the female researchers had MSc as highest academic qualification, while 57.3 percent of the female extensionists reported having MSc. The findings revealed that 50.9 percent of female researchers belong to educational institutions (universities, colleges of Agriculture/Technology, and Research Institutes). However, 41 percent of the female extensionists belong to the Agricultural Development Programmes (ADP). The ADP is the major organ of agricultural extension in Nigeria , while some rural development NGOs also carry out extension work.
In order to determine if respondents were skilled in the use of ICT, they were requested to rate their skills themselves. Among the female researchers, information technology self-rating of between 0 and 1, with mean rating of 1.49, while ICT rating of female extensionists was between 2 and 3, with mean rating of 2.29. The implication of this finding is that female extensionists had higher mean ICT skill rating than female researchers. Female extensionists have been more receptive to ICT suggesting a moderate level of ICT skills.
Gregg and Irani (2004) reported average self-rating of ICT skills among Extension agents. This present study reveals that 68.9 percent and 70.4 percent of female researchers and female extensionists respectively have been exposed to ICT for between 2 and 5 years with mean years of exposure of 4.5 years. It is pertinent to note that ICT made significant entry into Nigeria around Year 2000. This obviously could have accounted to the few years of exposure. The findings of the study showed that 81 percent of female researchers and 59 percent of female extensionists travel for between 12 and 23 km to use ICT facility far away from their respective offices because their office computers are not connected to the Internet. This shows that female researchers and female extensionists obtain ICT services from Public cybercafés. Omotayo (2005) stated that Public cybercafés offer value-added services and are key instruments in telecommunication policy. Public cybercafes are common features in the study area hence respondents utilize the services easily.
Respondents' awareness, access and utilization of ICT
About 84 percent of the female researchers indicated that they are aware of ICT while 88.5 percent of female extensionists indicated that they were aware of ICT suggesting that a relatively higher percentage of female extensionists are aware of ICT. Also, about 82 percent of the female researchers indicated that they know how to access Internet on their own while 74.1 percent of female extensionists indicated that they know how to access Internet on their own. Whereas 71.7 percent of the female researchers indicated that they do not have adequate access to ICT , 59.3 percent of the female extensionists indicated that they have adequate access. The findings which showed that female researchers do not have adequate access to Information Technology is a clear indication of the dearth of computer and computer related facilities in their work environment. This is further compounded by inadequate seminars and workshops on the use of Information Technology as attested to by respondents.
The findings of the study showed that 60.4 percent and 59.3 percent of the female researchers and female extensionists respectively have no Personal Computers in their offices. Those who indicated that they have Personal Computers in their offices stated that they were not connected to the Internet. This is a serious situation that shows that there is still a lot to be done if the Nigerian agricultural sector must meet up the global challenges of ICT. When asked to indicate how frequent they used information technology in a week, 55.7 per cent and 70.4 per cent of female researchers and female extensionists respectively indicated 3 to 5 times a week. As expected female extensionists recorded a higher percentage compared to female researchers.
Table 2: Awareness, access and utilization of ICT between female researchers and extensionists
Source: Field survey data, 2005
Types of ICTs needed by respondents
Using an open ended question, the types of ICT needed by female researchers and female extensionists were found to include; World Wide Web, Electronic mail (Email), Electronic Spreadsheet, Word Processing, CD-ROM, Use of Projector, Use of computer, Web Design, Chatroom.
Table 3: Types of ICT needed by respondents
Source: Field survey data, 2005
Gregg and Irani (2004) reported the use of Email, Microsoft PowerPoint, World Wide Web, Spreadsheets, Web page editing and development. There is no doubt that Information and Communication Technologies such as email, www, etc., are required for effective agricultural extension. This is because they have potentials to reach larger audience; they are also effective for training that enhances capacity building of the end-users. Their usefulness in the search and packaging of information on demand and for exploring alternative production options and technologies have been reported (Arokoyo, 2005).
Differences in hours used on ICT between female researchers and female extensionists
Table 4 shows that female researchers spent an average of 3.5 hours on ICT, while female extensionists spent an average of 4.4 hours on ICT. The result reveals that female extensionists spend relatively higher number of hours on ICT compared to female researchers.
Table 4: Z-test analysis showing differences in hours used on ICT between female researchers and female extensionists
Source: Computed from survey data, 2005
The Z-test analysis showed that there is no significant difference in the number of hours spent on using ICT weekly. The implication of this finding is that female researchers and female extensionists are not spending enough time on ICT. When compared to findings of Goode and Elliot (1992) who found in their study that extension personnel spent an average of six hours each week on IT, it is easy to conclude that female researchers and female extensionists in Southeastern Nigeria still need to spend adequate time on ICT to enable them increase their skills on the tools.
Differences in the distance from office of respondents and ICT facility
Table 5 shows that female researchers indicated the distance between their office and the ICT facility is an average of 13.99 km, while female extensionists indicated an average of 12.74km.
Table 5: Z-test analysis showing differences in distance of ICT facility from the office of researchers and extensionists
Source: Computed from survey data, 2005
The Z-value of 0.452 shows that there is no significant difference in the distance to ICT facility between office of female researchers and female extensionists. Respondents had indicated that they have computers in their offices but these are not connected to the Internet. The long distance indicated in this study is a manifestation of frustration experienced in using ICT tools among respondents. The frustration experienced are mainly because they have to interrupt their work schedule to get to a cybercafe and also because of the poor transport network. In addition they pay for the time used in the cybercafe.
The study investigated awareness, access and utilization of ICT between female researchers and female extensionists. Female scientists are significant stakeholders in the agricultural sector. The study identified that awareness of ICT among female researchers and female extensionists is high and found that respondents know how to access the Internet but reported inadequate access to ICT. Most respondents do not have computers in their offices and for those who indicated that they have personal computers in their offices reported that they are not connected to the Internet. It was found that majority of the respondents used ICT for between 3 and 5 times a week. The study found that female researchers spent an average of 3.5 hours on ICT weekly, while female extensionists spent 4.4 hours weekly. There was no significant difference in the number of hours spent on ICT weekly between female researchers and female extensionists. Also, it was found that the distance between ICT facility and office of female researchers is approximately 14km, while for the female extensionists a distance of approximately 13km was indicated. The types of ICT needed by female researchers and female extensionists include World Wide Web (www), Electronic mail (E-mail), Electronic spreadsheet (Microsoft Excel), word processing, compact Disk Read Only memory (CD ROM). Use of projector, use of computer, training on web design, chatroom, VCD and DVD.
Based on the findings of the study the following recommendations are hereby made:
Since a dearth of computers in offices of female researchers and female extensionists was identified, the need to equip offices with personal computers and link them up with the Internet is very important. This will reduce the stress of travelling for distance of 13-14 km to utilize ICT facilities. A situation where scientists go to public cafes to use ICT tools is saddening. The use of CD ROM, chatroom and Electronic spreadsheet should be given serious consideration in ICT applications among respondents. It is disappointing that many researchers and extensionists find it difficult to use these tools. This has serious implication for scientific agriculture in Nigeria as a whole.
We wish to express sincere appreciation to the World Summit on Information Society, Gender Caucus, Ottawa, Canada for providing the grants that supported this work.
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