Bridging the ICT gender gap through the power of partnership
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Durban: It has taken the world of work a while to acknowledge and maintain the idea that women are a force of their own and capable to take on any career they desire.
A career in information and communication technologies (ICT) is a broader term for information technology (IT), and involves all communication technologies including the internet, wireless networks, cellphones, computers, software, social networks and other media applications and services that enables users to access, retrieve, store, transmit and manipulate information in a digital form.
The World Economic Forum’s 2020 Global Gender Gap Report revealed that gender disparity in tech was a problem, globally. The study estimated that it would take about 100 years to close the gap.
The South African Institute of International Affairs (SAIIA) says women’s access to ICT is constrained by factors that go beyond issues of technological infrastructure. Socially and culturally constructed gender roles shape and limit the capacity of women and men to participate on equal terms.
Women often lack the financial resources, education levels and equal opportunities to access ICT goods and services.
In a male-dominated IT landscape, amid record unemployment lows, Momentum Metropolitan has joined forces with ITvarsity to help close the gap for women looking to build a career in tech.
Through the Momentum Metropolitan Foundation, Momentum identified and facilitated the application process of 10 young women from across the country to enrol in a 12-month online ITvarsity course. The accredited course will focus on app development, giving them the opportunity to complete it at their own pace and in their own space.
“The importance of digital in the future careers of young South Africans means that this sector needs to be more accessible, especially for young black women. It is only through partnerships like this that we are able to bridge the gap between hardship and opportunity, and do so for people in need in all corners of the country, no matter how remote,” says Nkosinathi Mahlangu, Momentum Metropolitan’s portfolio head for youth employment.
Through the partnership ITvarsity provides the education, while Momentum extends the reach of the education’s impact.
“This course can be accessed from anywhere in the country,” says Mahlangu. “As long as participants have access to a device and the internet, even a young woman in the middle of GaMatlala in Limpopo can be given access to this opportunity.”
He says the role that partnerships play in society are often overlooked, especially where people with no access to opportunities are given a chance to participate and gather momentum on their journey to success, providing a much-needed boon to their communities and the national economy.
The aim is to help build the young women’s careers by increasing their immediate access to opportunities in the ICT space.
“The recent unemployment stats show that women, especially young black women, remain the most vulnerable group in as far as employment opportunities are concerned and this partnership enables us to unlock opportunities in the IT sector to make it accessible for these women no matter where they live.”
He says the tech and digital era needs to make space for all and that means bridging the gaps of gender and geography.