Huawei South Africa said it was taking practical steps to encourage more young women into the telecoms-engineering space. Photo: File

DURBAN - As the world celebrated Girls in ICT Day on April 25, Huawei South Africa said it was taking practical steps to encourage more young women into the telecoms-engineering space.

"We have set a quota for 50 percent female intake in three of our key youth intake/training programs. Our bursary programme, our graduate programme and our Seeds for the Future study trip to China will all benefit from greater representation of women and girls," said Huawei COO Christina Naidoo.

"While our current projects support students at tertiary level, we are planning a bring-a-girl-child-to-work project, where we will invite girls from high schools around our businesses to visit our campus to view our latest technologies and hopefully inspire more women to join the sector, " added Naidoo.

International Girls in ICT Day, is an ITU/United Nations initiative aimed at encouraging and empowering girls and young women to consider studies and careers in the growing field of ICTs. It is celebrated every year on the fourth Thursday of April.

Huawei’s drive to empower women through the Huawei Graduate Programme is already bearing fruit, as women graduates emerge from the programme well equipped for a bright future in ICT (Information and Communications Technology). 

The Huawei Graduate Programme broadens and deepens skills among young professionals starting out in the industry. Two young women who distinguished themselves on the programme are Kutloano Dipela and Marguerite Strydom.

"We were really impressed with the commitment shown by Kutloano and Marguerite. They helped to demonstrate Huawei’s belief that women have so much more to contribute to ICT. All they need is better opportunities. One can only imagine what they will achieve for our company and our industry as their careers evolve," said Naidoo.

Network assistant engineer Dipela said that she found the Huawei Graduate Programme "intense", but was inspired by the knowledge she had gained. "It brought home to me that to succeed, one needs to always be learning and to keep the customer at the centre of everything we do," said Dipela.

Her colleague Marguerite Strydom works as an assistant logistic fulfillment engineer, and described how she found modules around company culture among the most rewarding. "I learned that if I keep pushing myself to achieve, that success will come," said Strydom. 

The Dipela and Strydom are in the vanguard of a new generation of young women ICT workers that will redefine that shape of the industry, which is coming to embrace the ability of women to a greater extent. 

Dipela pointed out that ICT was a sector where women could make a significant impact on human development. "ICT serves the world" said Dipela.

She added, "It improves the quality of human life and acts as an enabler in businesses, schools and governments". 

Both women agreed that there was still room for improvement in gender representation within the industry, but were excited at the opportunities it offered.