Equalising ICT: A Guide to Attracting and Keeping Women in the ICT industry

The 80/20 split is alive and thriving in the South African ICT industry. Sadly, it means that a mere 20 percent of the ICT workforce is comprised of women.

Tascha Hermann, the managing director of Green Grass Consulting, a recruitment agency specialising in the ICT space, firmly believes that this trend needs to be changed. And the only way to do that is to firstly empower women to embrace the field, and secondly to help other companies see the wealth of having dynamic and passionate employees – no matter which gender box they tick.

Despite the tasks themselves being gender neutral, the under-representation of women in the ICT industry is plagued by many challenges – all of which aiding this 80/20 split.

Some of the challenges that women face include travelling and time constraints, the work-family conflict, general misconceptions regarding women in the labour force, traditional and cultural stereotyping, and a lack of role models in the field. The biggest one though relates to the industry being seen as an intrinsically male environment that is negatively associated with anti-social behaviour.

Tascha’s passions lie in finding the very best person for the right position. As the ICT industry is perceived as a predominantly male orientated realm, Tascha sees the opportunity for more women to enter this crucial field, not to the detriment of men, but rather in hopes of levelling the playing field.

The key to getting women to seek employment in the ICT industry

The key to getting women to seek employment in the ICT industry is then to face the stereotypes and challenges head on. Tascha is a mother herself and knows how these constraints can inhibit a women’s career when she has a family. But that doesn’t have to be the end of the conversation. The process starts with an access to technology, and a focus on integration of ICT skills across all curriculums. The importance of mathematics, science and technology education needs to be emphasised throughout schooling, and in a broader sense, overall computer skills have to be seen as a must in today’s technology driven world.

From school to university, college and any further education programmes, the key here is to up the intake of female students, but almost more importantly, to ensure that the students who do enrol end up graduating, and graduating well.

Hermann and Green Grass Consulting believe that the trick is to not only to entice women into the ICT sector where they can flourish, but also to keep them in the industry. To this end flexibility is key. Missing the peak hour traffic but still achieving a productive day’s work is better for both job satisfaction and staff morale in both men and women. And with today’s innovative technology, mobility is becoming more of an option through systems that can monitor employee’s work from afar.

More than flexibility and mobility, a metamorphosis needs to occur where it is about the quality of the work produced, not the quantity. Through delegation, time management and prioritisation, the career-mom can be successful at both. Couple that with lift clubs, online shopping and a ‘can-do’ attitude and that 80/20 split can be equalised.

~ Katie Cubitt