File picture: Pexels
File picture: Pexels

SA women taking the tech world by storm

By Yasmine Jacobs Time of article published Aug 9, 2021

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While South Africa has taken strides to close the gender gap in industries across the board, women still remain vastly under-represented in the technology space.

Currently, women hold 19% of tech-related jobs at the top 10 global tech companies. Men hold 81%.

In leadership positions at these global tech giants, women make up only 28%, with men representing 72%.

More shocking stats reveal that in South Africa, the proportion of females to males who graduate with STEM-related (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) degrees is imbalanced.

Women are under-represented in maths and statistics (4:5), ICT and technology (2:5), as well as engineering, manufacturing and construction (3:10).

As a result, there is a significantly smaller pool of female STEM talent, restricting the potential of South Africa’s technology sector.

This imbalance between men and women in the technology sector could only be remedied unless organisations, schools and universities work together to change entrenched perceptions about the tech industry.

As a woman in a male-dominated industry, Bridget Meyer, SKYWORTH senior marketing manager can relate. “It’s such an exciting time for tech, whether that be television technology, gaming, AI, programming, the list goes on. Over the last two years tech has been the one thing that has brought us together. It’s this that is hopefully not only going to propel more interest, but education and opportunities, for women to succeed in this industry.”

It is also important for young people to be educated about the dynamics and range of careers in the technology world, according to a report issued by PwC’s Economics team.

In honour of Women’s Month, we highlight women in tech.

Baratang Miya

Miya is the founder and CE of GirlHYPE: Women Who Code. She started a coding academy for women and girls in disadvantaged communities in South Africa in a bid to attract, promote and develop them in the field of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM).

Adriana Marais

Marais is the founder of Proudly Human and a theoretical physicist and technologist. Marais is always seeking to develop new frontiers in research and technology for a future on Earth, Mars and beyond. She is also a Director at the Foundation for Space Development.

Zandile Keebine

Keebine is the chairperson of NPO GirlCode. GirlCode aims to become the hub for young girls and women who want to get into tech. They offer all-female hackathons, monthly workshops as well as direct access to women working in top ICT (Information and Communication Tech) companies.

Tumi Sineke

Sineke is the head of the OfferZen Foundation, working hard to improve diversity and inclusion in tech.

The foundation’s mission is to help people from disadvantaged communities thrive in their tech careers.

Sineke seeks to to lead and implement programmes at scale that have made a positive impact in people’s lives.

Sewagodimo Matlapeng

Indoni Developers is an organisation that provides career support for female software developers. The organisation focuses on mentorship, skills development, and opportunity as the three pillars of developing sustainable tech careers for women.

Lindiwe Matlali

Matlali is the founder and chief executive of Africa Teen Geeks, an NGO that offers coding lessons to South African school children and unemployed youth.

The organisation also hosts workshops, hackathons, and community outreach programmes.

The mission of Africa Teen Geeks is that no child be left behind in the tech revolution. It has grown to be one of Africa’s largest computer science NGOs, with a reach of over 48 000 children and more than 1,300 volunteers.

Dr Mmaki Jantjies

Dr Jantjies was one of the first black South African female PhD computer science graduates in the country at the age of 28.

She formerly headed the University of Western Cape's academic department of information systems.

According to Jantjies, technology is no longer a luxury in the education space but rather a necessity. She aims to level the playing field in education through technology research .

Benji Coetzee

Coetzee is the founder of EmptyTrips.

EmptyTrips is a fast-growing South African start-up and is on a mission to matches cargo space demand to supply for the transportation of goods.

EmptyTrips reduces carbon emissions by optimising the use of trucks and trains.

It has been described as the ’Uber for cargo’.

These amazing women are only a few of the many that are changing South Africa one step, one start-up and one company at a time. We are looking forward to see more women making a name for themselves in not only the tech industry but in all sectors in South Africa.

IOL TECH

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