We came across a lively young lady after yesterday’s Breakfast Briefing on Cloud Computing. While the event was a success, this young lady touched on a few details that could make such events even better. The highlight of her feedback was that there were only four women in attendance at the event and that promoting a more balanced atmosphere is good for the sector.
I jokingly proceeded to notify her that no quotas were imposed and that anyone within the indicated target profile for the event was free to sign up and attend. Although l initially laughed this observation off, its becoming more and more apparent that she was right.
The ICT sector in Zimbabwe, Africa and the world is dominated by men and has been since the telephone and transistors were invented. A few women have recently begun breaking into the mould by challenging this convention, The following are some of them:
- Tana Meecham: ZOL Chief Operations Officer
- Njeri Rionge: Co-founder of Wanachi Group (Wanachi is one of the biggest ISPs in Kenya)
- Rudo Mudavanhu : Africom Chief Commercial Officer & 2010 ICT Achievers business woman of the year
- Meg Whitman: HP’s new CEO
- Sheryl Sandberg: Chief Operations Officer of Facebook
- Ory Okolloh: Google Policy Manager for Africa
In Kenya a group of female developers and ICT entrepreneurs even came together to create their own network known as Akira Chix . There is no better way to sum up the need for more female representation than the following:
In a continent where women form a majority of the population and half of the workforce, it is an anomaly that the percentage of women working in technology is less than 15%. Technology is one of the key factors driving Africa’s projected economic rise. As such, there is enormous potential for maximizing the growth of technology through increasing the number and quality of women in technology.
Akira Chix has since begun gaining ground beyond Kenya and is becoming a global movement. Who would have thought that a technology initiative in a developing country could capture headlines around the world. As a guy writing on this subject l believe the onus is on women to take advantage of the widespread opportunities available to them. Perhaps future events will have more ladies in attendance and a local chapter of Akira Chix might actually emerge.