Are women afraid of venturing into ICTs

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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:

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.

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  • http://twitter.com/ltshuma Lingani Tshuma

    well women dont like Maths, thats all!!

  • http://twitter.com/MsFuzzyhead Nikki Kershaw

    Haha – the comment above may just illustrate my point perfectly ;)

    I think the absence of women in IT has less to do with fear (of what? a male-dominated industry?) and more to do with the gender stereotypes that are still playing themselves out – both in our society and in our schools. I think if we want to start to see more women entering the industry, we need to change what we’re teaching our kids, from a very young age. Men don’t only get to be engineers or web developers, and women don’t only get to be hairdressers or stay-at-home mums.

    I think that the notion that ‘the onus is on women to take advantage of the widespread opportunities available to them’ is simplistic. Yes, women have more opportunities now than at any point before in history. But I am not convinced that, in this case, all opportunity has been created equal. In an environment where domestic sciences dilute the syllabus at girls’ schools, women have that much more to overcome – often from before they even start nursery school – to get into science and technology.

    Having said that, however, I think prominent female figures in powerful positions within the industry, both locally and internationally, will go a long way in rectifying the situation, and I look forward to seeing many more women in the ICT sector in the near future.

    Disclaimer: I have nothing against engineers, web developers, hairdressers or stay-at-home mums.

  • Anonymous

    @twitter-19217476:disqus Thanks for having the guts to put down you opinion; is it just me or are other women not giving their insight into this matter…Yes most women do grow up in societies defined by stereotypes but sadly few seem to be challenging these. I learn’t in a co-ed, multicultural environment and never came across situations where girls were “influenced” to choose specific career routes in the school context. However l did see the role and impact of social influences. 

    The most exceptional student l ever encountered during my school days was female. Yes l agree that parents play a huge role in defining the future and potential of their kids, hopefully the world’s ICT landscape will be more defined in future. Unlike other ICT related topics we tackle, l’m a guy and believe l’ve played my limited bit by bringing this issue to the fore…

  • Guest

    Sexist bastard!!

  • Mavy

    @ClintonMutambo:disqus The issue of gender stereotyping is far stronger than you can beleive and has the greatest impact on women’s career choices. its not exactly what we are taught or what society has to say, but what society is doing. From mere observation, as a young girl you learn that women should behave in a certain way or that women belong to certain places. The issue of women in ICT stems from the societies that we grow up in. I might be told that I have the same opportunities at making it in the technical field just like any man, but if the actual situation on the ground tells me otherwise then i am bound to believe that as a woman I might not be competent enough.

    I am a woman and an engineer. i have been in the technical fail for a decade now and it hasn’t been easy. I have to prove myself over and over again in order to be accepted as competent. World over people have sought to understand if there are any differences in our make up as men and women that would make women less inclined to go into the ICT field. One interesting find is that in term of intellect there is no actual difference but women are more inclined to believe it when they are told sciences or maths is difficult. on the other hand man will only believe it after they have tried and failed. so because women never attempt to go where they are not sure they end up not going into ICT.

    Unfortunately this is a contentious issue which we can debate and discuss about for long, but the bottom line is society has a long way to go before it can make it acceptable and easy for women to go into ICT or technical fields.

  • Aaaaaa

    just to add my opinion, i have met a lot of women/girls doing their respective IT degrees, and its true they may constitute less than 20% of the class. But as you talk to most of them you begin to see a certain trend, that reflects that IT was a 2nd option at best, they wanted something else but unfortunately could not do it. To tell the truth being a developer is hard work(far much harder than most professions, u have to be creative, calculative, etc) most pple male included are not willing to go the extra mile, so they settle for user support roles, basic network admin, or IT marketing. In my opinion we can only remedy this by teaching s/w development from lower levels, high schools etc, where its taken on by every student and those that excel will just grow in that direction

  • Alice

    I believe that men amd women should be given equal opportunities to make it in the ICT sector. I am a woman, and an Engineer and I must say I love my job and enjoy so much what I do!! I am going to work extra hard at advancing my career in ICT and I am going to make it!! This has nothing to do with my gender, but with the inner motivation that drives me to achieve my dreams!!

  • Sipho Sibanda

    Its like asking are women shy to become doctors.Equal access to opportunities does not mean people are equal.Just a fact.