While a number of senior female executives have moved up the ranks in the ICT space in South Africa, those numbers, compared to male counterparts, are still low, says financial services firm Sekela Xabiso.
However, the auditing firm says that the local industry is slowly transforming to be more welcoming and accessible to women.
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 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,” Ralebepa said.
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,” Ralebepa said.
Statistics such as those released by the Institute of Information Technology Professionals (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.
“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,” the IT lead said.
Ralebepa believes that 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,” Ralebepa said.
“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,” Ralebepa said.