Women in IT kicks off with advice to ‘own your space’
The Institute of Information Technology Professionals South Africa (IITPSA) Women in IT (WIIT) chapter celebrated its relaunch and the launch of its new website with a special Women’s Day webinar on personal and professional coping strategies.
The special Women’s Month event allowed participants to compare notes on how women IT professionals are juggling the work-from-home environment, looking at how they can better own their time, master their headspace and make remote working work for them so that they can show up powerfully to themselves in life and business.
TEDx speaker, coach, trainer and author from Beyond the Dress, Lori Milner, who also co-authored ‘Own Your Space: The Toolkit for the Working Woman’ in conjunction with Nadia Bilchik, CNN’s Editorial Producer, outlined coping mechanisms like saying no and managing procrastination – which are particularly important for people struggling to achieve a work-life balance during challenging times.
“Make time for yourself so you can be fully charged and show up powerfully,” she said.
Milner advised people to invest in themselves and embrace self-compassion. "We need to allow ourselves to be imperfectly perfect – it’s okay.”
On achieving goals, she said: "Replace the habit of putting off something with the habit of starting, and aim for progress instead of perfection. Change the lens rather than seeing what you’re doing as not being perfect; see it as making a contribution and adding value."
Zandile Mkwanazi, Chairwoman and founder of GirlCode, said working from home tended to mean she was always on and felt obligated to respond to client mails and WhatsApps at all hours of the day and night. “We give people permission to reach us at 9pm when they could have waited for the next day. I’m too quick to jump out of bed and respond to e-mails, but boundaries are necessary for living a balanced life,” she said.
Senele Goba, Director of 4IR Innovations, founder of Ososayensi Education Advancement and non-Executive Director of the IITPSA, said running her business from home and having children attending school from home during the lockdown had been challenging at first. However, her family had developed a time slot every evening when they put down their devices and prepared dinner together, making a chore double as valuable family time. “Saying no graciously and learning to manage expectations are also important for not becoming overwhelmed,” she said. “It’s okay to not be okay sometimes. I find people are quite understanding, and we build harmony and better relationships by allowing ourselves to be vulnerable to each other.”
The IITPSA has revived its WIIT chapter, with additional committee members and a new website.
WIIT aims to encourage and empower young women who are seeking a career within the IT sector, as well as to uplift women who are already established in IT careers.
Ulandi Exner, Non-Executive Director of the IITPSA and chair of the Women in IT chapter, says: “Women are not as visible in the IT sector as we would like them to be. Among IITPSA’s membership, for example, women account for only around 17% of the total. Through the IITPSA’s Women in IT chapter, we want to promote and highlight women in IT and create a pipeline for more girls to enter the IT sector through initiatives such as our Computer Olympiads, scholarships and bursaries. The Women in IT chapter aims to help close the gender gap.”
WIIT has a limited number of scholarships and funded bursaries available each year for girls and young women wishing to study towards careers in IT. WIIT will also match experienced women in IT as mentors with new IT professionals to support them with advice on career options, further study directions and overcoming challenges.
For more information and to join WIIT, visit www.womeninit.org.za.