Women called to diversify ICT sector

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Johannesburg - South African women have been called to diversify the Information Communication and Technology (ICT) sector by bridging the gender divide.

This is imperative as women are underrepresented in the ICT sector, despite opportunities being available, says Communications Deputy Minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams.

Statistics show that women in South Africa only make up 20% of the ICT sector workforce as opposed to a 56% representation globally.

“We don’t have a good story to tell as the sector because males are still dominating. As we celebrate Women’s Month, we have a responsibility to question how we tell stories of the women who have made strides in ICT, as well as inspire others to come into the sector,” said the Deputy Minister.

She ended her Women’s Month programme on Tuesday by engaging with women in ICT and broadcasting on empowerment strategies in the sector.

The engagement session was led by the Black Information Technology Forum (BITF), an association of individuals formed specifically to address the poor representation of black people in the ICT industry as both professionals and business operators.  

Deputy Minister Ndabeni-Abrahams said women in the South African ICT industry are more focused on the supporting aspect of ICT companies. 

She said South Africans need to interrogate what it is that they need to do to unleash the potential to make this industry a success and represent women.

“I believe it’s time to change and do things differently. We need to acquire business skills in order to move to higher decision making roles.”

She said with the world becoming more digitally inclined, South Africa needs to be ready and not lose out by manufacturing the digital devices and applications which will in turn improve the socio-economic conditions in the country.

The ICT and broadcast industries occupy a pivotal position within the greater South African economy, contributing as much as 10% to the country's gross domestic product. Deputy Minister Ndabeni-Abrahams said these industries have the capacity to change perceptions and to advance SA's transformation goals.

One of the interventions needed, she said, is career guidance not only at matric level but at the lower grades. This, Deputy Minister Ndabeni-Abrahams said, will help ensure that women occupy the sectors that are beneficial to the economic growth of the country.

Giving ICT opportunities to youth

Government, together with the private sector, already has in place skills development programmes to empower, skill and attract young women and men to the ICT sector.

One such example is a partnership between the Department of Communications (DOC), Media, Information and Communication Technologies Sector Education Training Authority (MICT-SETA) and Atos, which trains unemployed youth in broadcasting and film production.  

“Your responsibility is to go out there and use the skills,” said the Deputy Minister.

She said with the advent of digital migration and the SABC’s plans to expand its channel offerings, there will be many opportunities for sound engineers and producers. “If people are not ready – they will miss out,” said Deputy Minister Ndabeni-Abrahams.

SABC COO Hlaudi Motsoeneng used his address to call on women to support each other as they climb the cooperate ladder. He also called on businesses to give opportunities to employees equally.

Other speakers at the session indicated that the country needs to provide women in the sector with the exposure, mentorship and the experience vital to ensure their success. – SAnews.gov.za

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