IITPSA takes WIIT under its wing
IITPSA recently launched Women in IT (WIIT) as a permanent Chapter of the Institute. founded in 2003 as a non-profit organisation, the Institute, which is celebrating its 60th birthday this year, made a decision to bring WIIT under its umbrella. Ulandi Exner, president, IITPSA, explained that the Institute is fully supportive of addressing the gender balance, encouraging, empowering and uplifting women in the IT Sector.
The IITPSA, formerly known as the Computer Society of South Africa, is focused on encouraging growth of professionalism and professional use of ICT, and at the same time on developing women and young people who want to start a career in the IT sector. They awarded their very first full bursary this year to a young woman who didn't have access to information technology as a subject, yet after some research, decided that it was what she really wanted to do. She is now at Wits University in her first year of computer science.
The audience was addressed by Moira de Roche, IITPSA Director, current honorary treasurer and former president of IITPSA, who explained why it was important for the Institute to focus specifically on nurturing women in this space. "The IT industry needs more women because it makes economic sense, diversity improves quality and IT enables women to work from home." The IITPSA will be launching a new page highlighting leading and aspiring women in IT from across the globe and are currently running a bursary programme for three young girls, from disadvantaged IT backgrounds, who are now learning programming online.
Many of the attendees that we spoke to are passionate about developing new talent, specifically young girls and women in IT. Performanta Academy, Eskom and Enable-U, to name just a few, have programmes running, such as a 12-month intensive infosec course focused on both theoretical and practical applications. SAP Skills for Africa encourages young, aspiring women graduates to continue their move to info tech.
These professional women were drawn to WIIT as a source of support; an opportunity to share the challenges and pain points being a women in a male-dominated space; networking with like-minded individuals and to learn. Zipho Sikhakhane, the keynote speaker, ensured that the audience walked away with food for thought that supported these personal objectives. Raised in Newcastle, KwaZulu-Natal, as a young Zulu girl from a difficult but encouraging environment, her sole ambition was to sit around the boardroom in a large organisation. At the same time she wanted to do this in her own unique, non-conformist manner. Using relatable antidotes and quoting woman such as Maya Angelou, Sheryl Sandberg and Brene Brown, she regaled the audience with her experience as an aspiring leader.
Sikhakhane urges women in business to network, support and encourage other women; don't conform to the norm; give each other feedback; know what makes you exceptional; know your strengths and to lead a life that leaves a legacy.
For more information about WIIT and how to become a member, visit Facebook womeninitza; Twitter WomeninITza or visit www.womeninit.org.za.