The Information Communications Technology (ICT) industry in South Africa is slowly changing to accommodate women. This can be attributed to an increase in the number of senior female executives who have occupied top ranks for the past three years; this development is still low when compared to their male counterparts.
Kgabo Ralebepa, an associate director in the IT Audit division at SekelaXabiso, said the rate at which women are being recruited for senior position in the sector are lagging. She backed up her opinion with figures from the Institute of Information Technology Professionals (IITPSA).
“Statistics such as those released by IITPSA state that 56% of global ICT professional jobs are held by women, but in South Africa, where women comprise 55% of the country’s entire workforce, only 20% of the ICT workforce are women,” she said in a statement.
Kgabo disagreed with the figures citing that they ignored certain important aspects.
“What these numbers do not reflect is the fact that more than 68% of South African women have enrolled in the ICT related courses at tertiary institutions in the last few years. Most tertiary institutions’ science and technology faculties are also dominated by female students these days,” Kgabo said.
Kgabo challenged women, saying it was their duty to make sure these statistics go up. She advised them to increase their participation in ICT to acquire top positions.
“Women should focus on developing their business and leadership skills which will enable them to take up leadership roles within any organisation. This can be done by further developing their management skills and getting involved in other areas of their respective businesses.”
She argued that most women undermine themselves by not aiming for top positions, a situation which she said was due to the lack of skills required for them to occupy managerial posts.
“Typically, women in the South African ICT industry are more focused on the technical aspects of IT.”
“As one of the few black women in South Africa who has risen to the level of a decision maker in ICT, 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.
Moreover, Kgabo advised that women should expose themselves to a variety of business departments which will empower them with tools handle leadership positions.
“The first step of learning new skills and getting involved in other areas of the business is to understand the business models, learn how other business units such as operations, finance, HR and marketing operate and develop interpersonal and leadership skills.
“The ICT industry is transforming and more welcoming to women, the opportunity is in our hands now. I urge women to take initiative, get involved in other areas of the business, learn, lead and take charge,” she said.