South Africa’s ICT industry is lacking women at the helm

By on April 16, 2014

Over the past few years, a number of senior female executives have moved up the Information Communications Technology (ICT) ranks, but the numbers, compared to male counterparts are still low. Kgabo Ralebepa, Associate Director in the IT Audit division at SekelaXabiso believes it is up to her female counterparts to turn these figures around. 

Women should focus on developing business and leadership skills that 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.

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,” says Ralebepa.

Statistics released by the Institute of Information Technology Professionals (IITPSA) show that 56 percent of global ICT professional jobs are held by women, but in South Africa – where women comprise 55 percent of the country’s entire workforce – only 20 percent of the ICT workforce are women.

What these numbers do not reflect is the fact that more than 68 percent 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.

Steps to success

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.

Secondly, join a firm which will offer enough exposure to training and clients. Accounting firms such as SekelaXabiso are leading the way when it comes to empowering women in this manner, giving women in the IT Audit business unit the opportunity to be at the helm.

As one of SekelaXabiso’s biggest clients, Transnet is making an effort by appointing women to lead their bigger ICT projects. As one of key decision makers within Transnet – and a member of the group executive committee reporting directly to the Group Chief Executive – Group Executive: Enterprise Information Management Systems Mantsika Matooane plays an important role in making sure that the needs of the business and IT users are met.

“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,” concludes Ralebepa.

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