South Africa’s Information Communications Technology (ICT) industry is slowly transforming to be more welcoming and accessible to women. Over the past few years, a number of senior female executives have moved up the ranks, but the numbers, compared to male counterparts are still low. Kgabo Ralebepa, Associate Director in the IT Audit division at SekelaXabiso believes it is up to her female counterparts to turn these figures around.
Women should focus on developing their business and leadership skills which will enable them to take up leadership roles within any organisation. This can be done by further developing their management skills and getting involved in other areas of their respective businesses.
Typically, women in the South African ICT industry are more focused on the technical aspects of IT. As one of the few black women in South Africa who has risen to the level of a decision maker in ICT, I believe it’s time to change and do things differently. We need to acquire business skills in order to move to higher decision making roles.
Statistics such as those released by the Institute of Information Technology Professionals (IITPSA) state that 56% of global ICT professional jobs are held by women, but in South Africa – where women comprise 55% of the country’s entire workforce – only 20% of the ICT workforce are women.
What these numbers do not reflect is the fact that more than 68% of South African women have enrolled in the ICT related courses at tertiary institutions in the last few years. Most tertiary institutions’ science and technology faculties are also dominated by female students these days.
The first step of learning new skills and getting involved in other areas of the business is to understand the business models, learn how other business units such as operations, finance, HR and marketing operate and develop interpersonal and leadership skills.
Secondly, join a firm which will offer enough exposure to training and clients. Accounting firms such as SekelaXabiso are leading the way when it comes to empowering women in this manner, giving women in the IT Audit business unit the opportunity to be at the helm.
As one of SekelaXabiso’s biggest clients, Transnet is making an effort by appointing women to lead their bigger ICT projects. As one of key decision makers within Transnet – and a member of the group executive committee reporting directly to the Group Chief Executive – Group Executive: Enterprise Information Management Systems Mantsika Matooane plays an important role in making sure that the needs of the business and IT users are met.
SekelaXabiso’s IT Audit business unit assists companies such as Transnet manage the business risks associated with the use of information systems and build sustainable solutions to improve the overall controls of their IT environments.
The ICT industry is transforming and more welcoming to women – the opportunity is in our hands now. I urge women to take initiative, get involved in other areas of the business, learn, lead and take charge.