Experts call for gender equality in tech industry
To commemorate the International day of girls in ICT, industry experts have called for gender equality in the sector.
On the average, in Nigeria, women make up 22 per cent of the total number of engineering and Technology University graduates on yearly basis, according to the National Bureau of Statistics,
While the IT industry often talks about inclusion and diversity, much more work remains to be done.
There is undeniably a gender divide in all businesses, and one of these historically male-dominated industries is technology.
For Global Head, Zoho for Startups, Kuppulakshmi Krishnamoorthy, knowing the importance of equal gender representation in tech is one thing, and doing what it takes to support to become an ally, is an entirely different thing.
“To support gender equality in tech, the key players who have the power to propel this movement and those that can translate mere words into actions, have to have infinite compassion, and courage born out of empathy and kindness to constantly work on changing the stereotypes.”
While making recommendations to amplify support, Krishnamoorthy said there should be support equality from early education on diversity and inclusion.
He said, “Invest time and money on training to overcome conscious and unconscious bias; to create more resonant leaders; to create a community of mentors and givers who passionately volunteer and train young girls; to find and bring together more people who are truly intentional and are willing to pass the baton of knowledge on.
“Create and make available a marketplace of tech tools for learning and development like robotics kits, sandbox developer platforms, etc., that help in proving that technology can be a leveler. Empower young girls by helping them enhance their innate emotional quotient (EQ), keeping in mind inter-sectionality,” she added.
While Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of SweepSouth, a home services company. Aisha Pandor, said, “When it comes to getting more women into tech or other spaces where we are underrepresented language and representation matter, we often hear that when females are assertive, they’re seen as aggressive, but when males are assertive, they’re confident.
“That kind of language and those kinds of stereotypes start being entrenched when kids are young and impressionable. For example, as early as at primary school, when girls are studying maths and science, it’s well reported that many don’t feel confident enough in a class with other young boys, to put up their hands to answer questions.”
Pandor noted that as a society, “we need to be aware of any gender biases our children grow up with, and consciously untrain them, otherwise they occur at such a formative stage of development that they become entrenched and difficult to undo.
“This awareness work needs to be done with both girls and boys, without leaving either by the wayside. We also need to highlight more women in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) in everyday life. If girls and women start seeing more women in spaces they wish to be part of, they’ll see their ambitions as relatable and achievable, and feel more encouraged to chase their dreams in this regard.”
While a strategist at Striata Africa, Dori-Jo Bonner said despite progress, there is still much more work to be done.
“As strange as it may sound, the gender divide in our technology business begins even before girls enter the workforce. As is the case with many other professions, ‘technology’ still carries many outdated stereotypes, and research indicates that girls are significantly less likely to study technology to consider a career in the sector.”
Bonner stressed this should not be the case, as the youth of today have emerged in tech much more than ever before, from entertainment to education, the next generation is introduced at a young age to technology and all it has to offer.
“What young girls do not learn about are the job prospects available in the technology industry and the important need for women to be acknowledged and make a difference in this space.
“It is crucial that we educate, mentor, and guide young girls about these options because only through this type of mentoring and guidance can we begin to open doors to so many people whose abilities and talents are so sorely needed right now.”