Today is International Girls in ICT day. This day provides an opportunity for girls and young women to see and experience ICT in a new light encouraging them to consider a future in technology. To date, over 111,000 girls and young women have taken part in more than 3,500 events held in 140 countries around the world.
Why is this day special and why should you care?
In my opinion we should all care about the skills gap unfolding across a multitude of industries. It is imperative that we start to build up young girls (and boys) now in order to ensure that come the year 2020 we have the right skills within the workforce.
As a communications practitioner I believe that days like today are extremely important; not only in rallying global communities to take action, but also aid in creating awareness about the ongoing problem we face across the globe- not only in SA.
If we look at the hard stats and representation in the ICT industry, globally, it is prevalent that women remain underrepresented in the science and engineering workforce, although to a lesser degree than in the past. Some of the greatest disparities occur in engineering, computer science, and the physical sciences fields(Source:NSF, Science & Engineering Indicators, 2014).
It is the responsibility of enterprises, NPOs and community forums to build a platform of engagement for the young girls of South Africa to empower, educate and inspire the youth of today, building on the possibilities of tomorrow for the female workforce.
There are so many good people, doing amazing things in the South African ICT industry- like Celeste Whittaker who runs Women in IT, Thuli Sibeko who runs Girls Invent Tomorrow, FruityMo aka Lebogang Modise who gives of her time upskilling young girls on the art of coding… the list could go on…
The point is- if we do not take upon ourselves the responsibility to grow the various industries we form part of as professionals, who is going to ensure the future of girls in any STEM career?
Want to get involved? Look at the two organisations listed above, you can join these efforts by mentoring young girls and exposing them to your world.