WIT Gathering Establishes 2017 Framework To Stop The Decline Of Women In Technology
‘Share the love’ was the theme of the South African International Association of Microsoft Channel Partners (IAMCP) Women in Technology (WIT) event on February 16, 2017, at Microsoft Gold Partner Mint Management technologies’ local office in Bryanston, Sandton.
The event was a great success, notes Mint HR Executive, Lauren Clark. “The interaction received from attendees was incredibly helpful as we shared ideas and initiatives, swapped connections, and came up with a strong idea of what we want to achieve this year, which is ultimately to get more girls interested in careers in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) industries.”
Nurturing a vested interest in technology
She adds that three grassroots initiatives were identified during the event which will be the focus of all IT awareness and encouragement efforts and comprise girls in school, girls leaving school and entering university, and girls leaving university and entering the job market.
“Girls across all stages of the education journey should be made aware of the difference that they can make in the technology industry, the abilities and unique traits that they have to offer, and the role models that they can aspire to. Thereby, a vested interest in the technology industry will be nurtured.”
Clark highlighted that “we can’t say women are under-represented in senior technology leadership roles if we have so few of them entering the field. Therefore, we need to make more female talent available to represent women in technology”.
Addressing gender bias
Pinnacle Brand Executive, Kavitha Glenister, who is one of the main drivers behind the WIT initiative, echoes Clarke’s sentiment and highlights stats released by IAMCP WIT International, which indicate that in 1984 women earned 37% of all computer science bachelor’s degrees, but today that number has plummeted to 12% (in the US). In addition, women make 85% of all consumer purchases, yet represent just 25% of the computing workforce.
“This is worrying,” Glenister states, adding that it is important to recognise why women are not entering the technology industry. “Is the industry not conducive to women? Or, are we becoming more inclined to live up to the stereotypes that women should enter certain fields and men others? Or could it be both?”
She adds that to break stereotypes and demand more female representation in technology, “women need to start speaking up and showing off. Young girls also need to be taught that they don’t have to choose a career based on their gender but should focus on their abilities and passion. The IT industry is not limited to software development, there are a host of careers available in the IT field which incorporate various other fields such as design, finance, marketing, management, and so on.”
“IT is as much skill as it is a passion and the one can’t flourish without the other,” Glenister notes, adding that “women bring a unique side to IT and with so few female entrants South Africa is losing out on amazing innovations.
Lastly, Glenister highlighted the economic impact that fewer entrants in the technology industry is having. “There is a dire need for technically-oriented entrants into the workforce and by steering more women into the technology sector we will help close this gap.”