It’s a largely accepted fact that women’s increasing participation in the ICT sector will have a number of advantages – not just for them, but for the rest of society: increasing employment opportunities for women enhances gender equality; it leads to benefits for their children and communities; and bridging the gender gap in ICT jobs can help address the mismatch between the supply and demand for employment in emerging countries. In Africa, the rise of women in technology is seen as crucial to the success of the continent as a whole.
Unfortunately, the world has been slow to push for change – not just in ICT, but in most other sectors, too. The WEF estimates that true gender parity will only be reached in about two centuries! At home in South Africa, women make up more than half the workforce, but only 20% of ICT professionals are women.
At Standard Bank, we know that it’s no good simply recognising and talking about a problem – though these are often the first steps to change. We are actively doing something about it: On 19 October, we’ll hold our Women in Technology Conference in partnership with Liberty at the Protea Hotel in Melrose Arch. Designed to address key challenges faced in the industry, the conference will provide a platform for women in technology and those aspiring to enter this field to meet, engage, and exchange ideas. The conference will feature panel discussions and keynote speakers addressing how access to market opportunities can be created, and how women in the sector continue to innovate and can advance in the workplace.
According to Nicole Borges, Head of IT Investments CIB from Standard Bank, it’s crucial that the gateway to innovation and change is opened, and the levels of equality in the world of technology are improved. In this regard, we’re aiming to encourage women entrepreneurs to collaborate to ignite the innovation that will move South Africa forward. This starts by acknowledging and assisting female-owned enterprises and business achievements.
Meanwhile, smartphone penetration in Africa opens the door to new opportunities that entrepreneurs need to embrace: every entrepreneur now has the power to access global markets and build their brands with a minimal budget.
“Innovation, leading to new forms of technology, has opened up opportunities for women in Africa. It is up to us to grasp those opportunities, and we hope this conference will assist in closing gender gaps and inspiring women entrepreneurs to drive change through technology,” says Jayshree Naidoo, Head of the Standard Bank Incubator.