Bridging the gap: The tech industry needs more women in leadership, says Vuma’s marketing lead

“We need more girls!” says Lianne Williams, Marketing Director at leading fibre provider, Vuma. “There needs to be a bigger push to equip girls with the relevant skills, insight, information and experience into technology-related fields. Just letting them know that this is an option is a big step. We need to let our girls know that being a tech leader is not far-fetched or unattainable for them,” says Williams.

It was rare to find a female who was looking to build a career in technology back when she was in school, she says. However, organisations such as GirlCode, an NPO focused on empowering young girls and women with coding skills, are doing away with these mindsets, and represent a massive and positive step towards empowering girls to take more of an interest in STEM skill areas, and subsequently feel motivated to pursue tech careers and take on leadership roles.

“As a woman in the field, I had to work harder and adapt to my male counterparts,” she says. “I had to conform to the boardroom ‘norms’, be a bit more different in terms of my dress code and ‘lingo.’ I have experienced the cost of “going against the grain,” as many women have, which I believe is higher for women than it is for men.”

There is a wealth of benefits to having more women embrace positions of leadership in the technology space, and companies would do well to provide women equal exposure and opportunities for promotion.

“It can be challenging and exhausting to manage the complexities of being a woman in a male-dominated industry. I was incredibly lucky to have mentors, coaches, and bosses who encouraged me not to sacrifice who I am. More women need to hear this message – and the industry will be better for it!” says Williams. Globally, there is a concerning lack of women in leadership positions in technology. The World Economic Forum’s 2022 Global Gender Gap report revealed that just 24% of leadership roles in technology were occupied by women. In South Africa, Women in Tech ZA reports that just 23% of tech jobs are occupied by women, accounting for 56,000 out of 236,000 ICT roles in the country.

These are challenging statistics, especially as we move further into the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) and digital technology continues to shape the future world of work and everyday life. Addressing the lack of female representation in tech requires a grassroots approach, with more young girls being exposed to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Maths) skills and technology career avenues.

Empowering more women in the technology sector should be considered a major priority, not least because representation matters, or because women deserve to occupy positions of leadership as much as their male counterparts, but because of diverse perspectives female leaders bring.

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