Can women succeed in the information and communications technology industry?

Are you a female entrepreneur in the information and communications technology (ICT) industry, or are you considering veering into this environment? Then you most probably feel that it is a male-dominated area where the odds are still very much stacked against you.

However, apart from the fact that women are every bit as intelligent as men, research has proven without a shadow of a doubt, that women are generally more supportive and communicative, and more focused on positive interaction. Women are therefore great at customer relationships. In practice, this means that women who supply ICT services should be more sensitive to their clients' requirements and can therefore be just as successful, if not more successful than men, in addressing and fulfilling them.

What prevents women from being fully represented within the ICT industry?

The question is, why are these wonderful qualities of women not translating into utilising the opportunities in the ICT-industry yet? Surveys show that this is one of the most rapidly developing fields, with astounding statistics such as projected growth of up to 53.4% in prospects for network systems and data communications analysts, and up to 44.6% increase in demand for computer software engineers for the period from 2006 - 2016. Sadly, the number of women going into these fields is decreasing. This is even more so the case in South Africa.

"Judging from personal experience, I would have to say that this is probably due to a lack of support and information that is available to women who are thinking of entering this area, which has up to date almost been an exclusively male domain," says Shana Kassiem, owner of Maxxor Software Services, a provider of software- and web-development services to leading companies in South Africa.

Now there is hope in the form of assistance and support for women in ICT

Fortunately, this lack of backing and accessible data for women who are in ICT, or interested in ICT in South Africa, is being addressed. Even better news is that a series of national workshops, presented by women who are serial ICT entrepreneurs and have much experience in this will be held - attendance of which is absolutely free!

Once-in-a-lifetime opportunity

These Workshops for SA Women ICT Entrepreneurs will be held in the month of August, in Pretoria, East London and Cape Town. It is an event to not be missed by women who are currently running or thinking of starting their own ICT-enabled businesses. Leslie Maliepaard of Wine Web states that the workshop comes highly recommended. "It is ideal for any entrepreneur who is ready to take that huge leap forward and make a positive impact on their own lives, as well as on those of people around them."

The power of the workshops lies in the fact that each workshop will be highly interactive- allowing for sharing of experiences and addressing critical questions posed by participants. Each workshop will be presented by six successful American women who are all industrialists or trainers in the field of ICT - and attendees will include female South African business owners who will share some of the valuable information that enabled them to get ahead in their enterprises.

"This workshop is an absolute must," enthuses Isabelle Rorke, creative producer of Anamazing, an animation and film production company. "You will be able to learn everything and anything that is vital to know for excelling in ICT."

More about the Workshop for SA Women ICT Entrepreneurs

Each workshop will include sessions on: women in ICT, entrepreneurship in South Africa, leadership styles, identifying your target market, "elevator pitch", business planning, operations, start-up financing, and growth strategies. There will also be scope for networking with fellow ICT entrepreneurs.

These workshops are part of an ongoing professional development programme to build the competence and confidence of South African women to start or grow successful ICT businesses. The programme is organised by Meridian International Center in Washington, DC, in partnership with Maxum Business Incubator and Maryland Women in Information Technology. This programme will encourage more women to enter the South African ICT industry by starting and growing their own companies and will result in a supportive network of women ICT business owners.

Sponsored by: the United States Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs Office of Citizen Exchanges, The SEDA Technology Programme of the Department of Trade and Industry, Maxum Business Incubator of The Innovation Hub, Cape IT Initiative, and Eastern Cape Department of Economic and Environmental Affairs.

How do I enrol?

Attendance at this workshop is free, but booking your seat in advance is essential. The various workshops are set to take place as follows:

* Pretoria: 4 Aug 2008, 08h30 -16h30 at The Innovation Hub
* East London: 8 Aug 2008, 8h30 - 16h30 at the Regent Hotel
* Cape Town: 13 Aug 2008, 08h30 - 16h30 at The Premier Hotel Cape Manor

For more information, or to make your reservation, contact Lettie Manaiwa now on (012) 844 0085 or Busi Ngwenya on (012) 844 0033.

Editorial contacts
Jell-O CommunicationsLesego Ranchu(012) 844 0042
The Innovation HubDr Jill Sawers(011) 844 0000
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