9 August 2022
The gender disparity issue in tech is global but the problem is strongly marked in Africa. It is estimated that only about 30% of the African population has access to the internet, particularly mobile internet. However, there is a 37% gap between men’s access to mobile internet compared to women’s.
According to Project Syndicate, the overall female labour-force participation rate has reached 61% in sub-Saharan Africa and yet women only occupy 30% of tech roles. Additionally, women are also excluded as consumers of technology in Africa compared to men.
There are many systemic problems that have led to these inequalities that need to be addressed for women to attain greater equality in tech, including addressing gaps in STEM education.
Here are some ways to empower women in tech:
#1: Keeping girls active and confident in STEM education
A 2015 study done by OECD investigated how girls’ lack of self-confidence in their abilities to do well in maths and science may explain why women are underrepresented in STEM subjects. This has a ripple effect on the throughput of young girls pursuing STEM careers and decreases the number of women entering the workforce in the tech fraternity.
Other studies point to the fact that even though girls scored as well as boys in STEM subjects, they often scored even better in reading. Thus, when they move to drop subjects in the latter years of high school, they would often rate their ability to read comprehension as their strength and then proceed to take up subjects that support this view of themselves.
What these results point out is that early high school years are a critical mentorship intervention point to maintain girls’ interest and confidence in STEM, which can later translate into them becoming leaders in tech.
#2 Eliminating bias in the hiring process
This will take intentionality from organisations, and at Integrove we are intentional about hiring young talent. We equip them with the necessary experience and skills required for them to kick-start their careers in tech. We also enable them to progress and grow within the organisation as well as the industry.
Sponsorship is much more than mentorship, there is more on offer than just guidance. There is huge potential in the power of true advocacy from both male and female sponsors. Sponsorship calls for senior leaders that are committed to advancing the careers of talented women. This has a great ability to open doors and provide unmatched growth opportunities. Sponsorship is a good way to empower women in tech.
#4 Access to funding & support
Female-driven ventures are perceived to be riskier investments than those of their male counterparts due to the underlying biases female founders face from potential investors. Female founders in Africa are more inclined toward sectors that have a direct impact on society such as health tech, edtech, and sustainable tech, which often do not receive large amounts of investments. Because of these challenges, it is key for female-led businesses to receive any form of support to move forward.
At Integrove we strive to empower women in tech. We’ve recently partnered with GirlCodeZA, an organisation that is passionate about empowering women through technology, as a sponsor for their upcoming hackathon. Backing these women-led businesses enables them to be future leaders in tech.
Bridging the gap to empower women in tech
The future of women in tech is promising. We are seeing more women taking up leadership roles in tech, the growth may be slow but is happening.
This however cannot be addressed as a one-time activity or event, it should be a collective effort where private organisations, government departments, non-profit organisations and influential members of society join forces to come up with creative ways to close these gaps.
Women need to be empowered with the necessary skills & resources to set them up for success in tech. This will in turn show young women and girls that a career in tech can be a right fit for them, so that they can confidently pursue STEM-related studies with the potential of becoming leaders in the future.