The IT industry is in a unique position to rapidly change the roles of women in the workplace and society – as new technology-enabled learning, employment and business opportunities emerge in the digital era.
Suddenly, one’s location becomes less important, as women in rural areas gain more opportunities to empower themselves. With technology, the ‘location’ issue: “where women are excluded from business due to where they live” could be solved.
The T-Systems Digital Learning Centre in Hazyview, Mpumalanga, for instance, handles up to 300 child or adult learners at any time – a vast majority being women and girl children, plugging into a world of online opportunities and developing the skills that could change the destinies of thousands of families in the region’s surrounding areas. Many other local technology companies have developed similar initiatives, and as more and more corporates see the potential of technology-led community development initiatives.
Within the IT sector, being a historically a male-dominated field, not enough young girls are choosing technology as their path into a brighter future. As an industry, much haven’t been done (when compared, for example, with the Engineering industry) to attract girls into the field.
Women in leadership positions within the ICT industry have a responsibility to attract the next generation of female innovators, to become role models that aspiring girls can look towards and want to emulate. By interacting with women that have progressed in this industry, new horizons open-up, as our girls’ creativity and vision meets with technology opportunity.
But while attracting young girls to the technology industry may not be easy, it’s certainly possible. In the T-Systems ICT Academy, close to half of the over 2000 learners that have graduated through the programme are female. An expansive majority of these are now working within the sector, rising through the ranks, and slowing changing the gender imbalance.
All across the continent, the innovations that technology is creating are designed to solve uniquely-African problems – from Agriculture to Healthcare, from Energy to Telecoms – and every other industry in between.