4 Reasons To Be Optimistic About The Future Of Women In Tech In SA

Why events like the Standard Bank 'Women in Tech' conference matter


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A lot has happened in 2017 to raise the profile of South African women in technology. As part of SME South Africa's Women's Month coverage this year we highlighted some of the women innovators who are making major strides in the sector, despite the challenges they continue to face. 

Women-led tech startups are making news for their achievements, whether successfully raising capital and scaling their businesses, breaking down barriers or building innovative solutions that address major challenges on the African continent.  

Looking to further drive the 'women in tech' movement, Standard Bank is hosting the first ever 'Women in Tech' conference held in partnership with the Standard Bank incubator on 19 October at The Playroom in Rosebank. 

Women in tech (executives, entrepreneurs, and technology thought leaders) will gather to network, engage and exchange ideas and experiences, as well as address the tech gender gap.  

The conference will also address some of the challenges that women-led companies face - mainly access to markets. It will explore ways women can innovate and advance in what continues to be a male-dominated industry.

This year the Standard Bank Incubator also launched their WomenInTech programme to develop, support and inspire women in technology. The programme is aimed at building the women in technology entrepreneurs pipeline across Africa and building a community of women who want to take their businesses to the next level. 

#ChangingTheFaceOfTech - Here are 4 reasons to be excited about what the future holds for women in the sector. 

1. Women Pioneers Are Changing The Face Of Tech
There has been a drive to increase the visibility of women who are making strides in the industry. Recently the country's 50 best women tech trailblazers were announced as part of the The Fifty Inspiring South Africa initiative. 

Some of the women who made the list are speaking at the conference, including Dr. Mmaki Jantjies, one of the first black South African female PHD computer science graduates; and nuclear physicist Nomso Kana, who is also the founder of Sun ’n Shield 84 TechnologiesBlaze Away SA and Taungana Africa

Also expected to take the stage is Amanda Dambuza, founder and director of Uyandizwa, who will speak about building and growing what is now a R100 million business. 

2. The Growing Community Of #Powerwomen
It's no secret that the tech industry still lacks in diversity - this can make the industry a very lonely one for women with many choosing not to pursue a career in the sector or leaving it, Lorraine Steyn, tech pioneer and founder of the software development organisation, Khanyisa Real Systems said in her Women's Month interview

Pandor, co-founder and CEO of home cleaning services Sweepsouth, in an interview with SME South Africa, spoke of the "bro culture" that continues to exist in tech. 

The good news is that there are more women-centered tech support programmes, conferences and communities that are popping up, offering an opportunity for women to gather to build a community and lend each other support. 

3. Women Are Taking A Seat At The Table

Gender stereotypes, unsupportive work environments, sexism and bullying are just some of the many factors keeping women out of tech.

Women should persist, despite these challenges, says Sheryl Sandberg, who is quoted saying, "Don’t expect that you’ll get to the corner office by sitting on the sidelines," while also acknowledging that it is more complicated for women. 

Fortunately, there are women who are succeeding in building successful careers in tech despite the challenges. 

The conference will highlight some of these stories, including Charmaine Houvet, director of Public Policy Africa, Cisco, and Germain Schmidt from Standard Bank Group IT, among others. 

4. Women Using Tech To Address Urgent Challenges
"I want to show young women that coding is more accessible than they might think, that it is creative and a powerful tool for social change," says Emma Dicks, founder of the tech initiative Code for Cape Town (Code4CT). Her programme introduces high school girls to the world of technology and equips them with coding skills. 

Dicks is far from being the only one - Arlene Mulder and Camille Agon of WeThinkCode, and Baratang Miya, founder of GirlHype, who is speaking at the event, are just some of the many women who are using technology to solve major challenges like unemployment and lack of access to education and justice.

Want to be part of the #WomenInTech movement? Win a TICKET to the Standard Bank Women in Technology Conference! We are giving away 10 tickets to SME South Africa readers, each valued at R600. Click here to enter. (COMPETITION CLOSED)

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