International Girls in ICT Day

Championing future women leaders in tech.

Johannesburg, 25 Apr 2024
There's a critical need for strong female role models in STEM.
There's a critical need for strong female role models in STEM.

This year’s theme for the International Girls in ICT Day on Thursday, 25 April is Leadership, to emphasise the critical need for strong female role models in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) careers.

The United Nations International Telecommunication Union (ITU) is highlighting the need to promote technology career opportunities for girls and women in the world’s fastest growing sector. Back home, Bizmod Consulting, a women-driven organisation, is encouraging and creating opportunities for South African girls and women with a passion for ICT. It established the Bizmod Women's Trust in 2016 to empower underprivileged girls in the ICT field, with Letsibogo Girls Secondary School in Soweto being a primary beneficiary since 2021.

Although women now fill 40% of high-skill occupations globally, their participation in ICT-related fields continues to be low. Women are nearly absent from software development, engineering, technology research, academia as well as at the highest levels of policymaking. They also tend to leave science and technology jobs at higher rates than men.

While there is a leadership gender gap in every industry, the largest gaps are found in the STEM fields. Women in ICT often find themselves in junior or support roles rather than in managerial roles, with little opportunity for advancement. They are also less likely to hold an executive position, become ICT entrepreneurs or be represented among science and technology policymakers.

“There is a real need in South Africa to uplift our youth, in particular our girl children,” explains Jessica Tandy a founding partner of Bizmod Consulting and trustee of the Bizmod Women’s Trust. Women are still significantly underrepresented in STEM positions in the workplace and at university. In addition, there is a scarcity of STEM skills in South Africa.

Bizmod aims to identify, develop and support top ICT talent and to grow these individuals in technical and behavioural soft skills. "In 2022, we donated towards the renovation of Letsibogo Girls Secondary School’s computer lab, and last year we provided the school with robotic kits and training for both the teachers and students." The school was also officially launched as a school of specialisation in mathematics, sciences and ICT, with a specific focus on media and communication.

To thrive in STEM, girls and young women must be exposed to women in leadership positions, fostering inspiration and breaking down barriers that hinder their progress.

“We need to break these barriers and encourage girls to pursue rewarding ICT careers,” Tandy concurs. She firmly believes in empowering the upcoming generation, and she emphasises that promoting education is one of the most effective ways to achieve this goal. The Bizmod Women's Trust has set an ambitious target of empowering 100 women in the field of ICT over the next five years. "We will achieve this goal through our partnership with Letsibogo Girls Secondary School, as well as through bursary and internship programmes designed for girls who share a passion for ICT. Empowering the future women leaders in tech is the responsibility of each individual and organisation, and it is up to us to drive and create a more inclusive and diverse tech industry," concludes Tandy.

The International Girls in ICT Day 2024 theme aims to address these challenges, encouraging empowerment and leadership development for a more equitable future in STEM.

For more information on the Bizmod’s Women’s Trust, visit the website.


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Tandi Robertson
Republic PR