by AKANI CHAUKE
JOHANNESBURG, (CAJ News) – THE International Day of Women and Girls in Science is the perfect opportunity for business leaders in technology to reflect on ways to encourage and inspire young women to enter the industry.
This is the view of industry executives ahead of February 11, the an annual observance adopted in 2015 by the United Nations General Assembly to promote the full and equal access and participation of females in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) fields.
According to a 2022 report by the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA), the proportion of female employees in the telecommunications sector declined by as much as 32,9 percent from 12 820 in 2020 to 8 603 in 2021.
Additionally, total female employment in the sector has further declined by 4,5 percent over seven years.
South Africa’s telecommunications industry has only widened over the past seven years, pointing to the sector’s need to cultivate female talent and speed the pace of transformation.
Yet, substantial research has proven time and again that companies with a gender diverse workforce are more likely outperform the competition, delivering greater innovations, financial returns and income growth.
“Over the past decade, several studies have proven that social diversity makes businesses smarter, more innovative and more financially successful,” said Arnoux Maré, Chief Executive Officer of Innovative Solutions Group.
He said having diverse teams encourages teams to broaden their views, think more critically and consider alternative solutions to the benefit of businesses and clients.
“Additionally, in the world of technology, women have been responsible for some of the greatest advances in the field,” Maré explained.
Globally, females have made a mark in the tech sector.
Well-known computer scientist Hedy Lamarr established a communications system that served as the inspiration for GPS, Bluetooth, and Wi-Fi.
Dr Radia Perlman developed the algorithm for the Spanning Tree Protocol (STP), which was crucial in the development of the internet.
Diana Becker co-founded MJL Communications.
“Embracing diverse workforces is not only a moral imperative, but makes good financial sense,” Maré added.
Becker said despite South Africa’s high unemployment rates, there remained a critical shortage of skilled in information technology (IT) workers, and particularly female talent.
“Hopefully, by seeing more women in the industry share their experiences, we can encourage other young women to study science and technology at schools and universities, because there are so many exciting career opportunities available,” she said.
– CAJ News