Women in Technology – far too few!!

There is one thing we can all agree on, there are far too few women in technology. Although the statistics don’t look great, there is progress. And if the past 2 years have taught us anything, change is the only certainty.

Women in Technology

The Statistics

According to Women in Tech ZA, “Only 23% of tech jobs are held by women in South Africa – out of 236 000 ICT (tech) roles, women occupy 56 000 of them.” That is an unbelievably low number. But when it comes to addressing gender imbalance within the technology sector, South Africa is not alone.

Globally only 24% of tech jobs are held by women. Although companies like Apple, Facebook and Google have tried to narrow the gender gap and create more diversity, the numbers still don’t come close with on average only 30% of their workforce being women.

When we start delving into the executive side of the tech industry. Sadly the numbers are not reflective of the skills women bring to the table. Especially when you consider that tech companies led by women, performed on average three times better than those with male CEOs – according to Fortune magazine.

Looking at Fortune 500 companies, only 5 of the 41 companies in the technology sector have women CEOs. Women hold a mere 14.3% of the board seats at tech companies and only 11% of executive positions at Silicon Valley companies.

Changing Perceptions

It’s all down to changing perceptions of both men and women! According to PeerJ Computer Science, computer code that had been written by women was accepted around 80% of the time on GitHub. This was actually 4% more than code written by men. However, that was only when the coder’s gender was kept secret. When contributors’ gender could be identified, men’s code was accepted at a higher rate.

Changing perceptions of women may take some time. But with the rapid increase in digital transformation, there will be many new opportunities available to women. Flexibility has always been attractive to working mothers. Fortunately, many roles in the technology sector lend themselves to remote working providing that much-needed flexibility.

Education

Technology has been a male-dominated industry. One of the ways to change that is by educating young women about the many exciting roles that are available within the industry. Reshma Saujani is the founder of Girls Who Code. Which is a non-profit organisation whose goal is to close the gender imbalance in technology. She believes, “By teaching our girls to code, we’re not just preparing them to enter the workforce — we’re preparing them to lead it.”

Here in South Africa, we have our very own Girlcode whose objective is to empower 10 million women and girls with tech skills by 2030.

Changing the Gender Imbalance

August is women’s month and perhaps it’s time to look at things differently. Addressing and changing the gender imbalance should not be about ensuring companies employ equal numbers of men and women. It should be about ensuring that women are provided with equal opportunities to choose their career paths, receive the same growth prospects and be paid equally regardless of their gender.

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