For quite some time, the Tech industry has been seen as a boys club where only males could head up big tech corporations, a lot of people have been lamenting the lack of female representation in key areas of these tech companies; however it seems like the tables are turning much to the liking of the feminist brigade who have been voicing their discontent of this situation within the sector.
What causes the female misrepresentation in key positions of IT corporations?
Next Generation published a report on the cause of female misrepresentation within the IT industry, the reasons vary however it is undeniable that sexism remains the main reason. Having studied Computer Systems in tertiary, I had a lot of female classmates, some of them were even better than me technically; which suggests that lack of skills or knowledge is not the reason for the low misrepresentation of women in the sector. In fact it is just patriarchy raring it’s ugly head.
Females are not given a fair opportunity to compete for key positions within the sector and those who are given the opportunity are paid far less than their male counterparts.
“In every field for which you can get a degree, except tech, the number of women has been increasing. We have 53% of degrees going to women – more women than men! Computer Science needs a complete overhaul, as its performance is dismal when we look at all the other disciplines. What we are doing now isn’t working, in fact the number of women in tech drops every year.”
Lorraine Steyn, Founder of Khanyisa Systems
Lorraine’s views definitely carry a lot of weight and it is a reality we encounter on a daily basis. The issue is not for females to be given preference over their male counterparts but to level the field for both genders to compete fairly for positions and have them on the same salary scale.
I have been encouraged by recent changes within the sector and I can beat my chest up with the fact that Africa seems to be leading the way in addressing this gender gap, the year just started however there has been two progressive appointments made by big African tech corporations. I certainly hope that these women are given all the resources and arsenal required for them to succeed and deal with gender stereotypes and sexism in the ICT industry.
Microsoft South Africa
Microsoft South Africa announced earlier this year that Lillian Barnard will be taking over the reigns as MD from the 1 March, following the resignation of Zoaib Hoosen.
Barnard joined Microsoft in May 2017 and the company says she was “immediately earmarked as a potential successor to Hoosen”. She has more than 20 years’ ICT experience having been in leadership roles both in South Africa and internationally..
Prior to joining Microsoft, Barnard served as the chief sales officer at Vodacom and worked for IBM for 15 years, seven of which were at the European headquarters in France and Switzerland, where she held many key positions. She has also served on the boards of Vodacom South Africa, Mango Airlines and the Dad-fund non-profit organisation.
Microsoft South Africa’s boldness to appoint a female MD should be celebrated and we shall continue to celebrate such appointments until we reach a point where it has become a norm. This is not
Liquid Telecom Zambia
Liquid Telecom has appointed Susan M’kandawire Mulikita as CEO of Liquid Telecom Zambia to accelerate growth and market penetration across the country.
Based in Zambia, Susan joined the company on 14 January 2019 and becomes the first female to join Liquid Telecom’s Southern Africa regional executive leadership team as CEO. Susan is also the first female CEO responsible for ICT in Zambia.
2019 couldn’t have started any better, with both these great appointments being made this year. A lot of us hope that these women can flourish and take their respective organizations to greater heights thus creating a platform for more women to be entrusted with similar opportunities.
The gender imbalance in the IT sector is a problem that will be dealt with as a continuous process, organizations such as Microsoft South Africa and Liquid Telecom have laid the platform which I we hope will encourage others to follow suit.