Why women are not dominating the technology Industry in Africa—Oladiwura Oladepo
Why women are not dominating the technology Industry in Africa—Oladiwura Oladepo. Tech4Dev’s Executive Director and co-founder, Oladiwuara Oladepo, highlighted the hurdles faced by African women in pursuing careers in technology due to cultural biases and stereotypes. This has resulted in a notable gender imbalance in the male-dominated tech industry, as indicated by an Accenture Africa report.
The report reveals that African developers are primarily male, with an 81% male and 18% female distribution. The survey, which covered 16 African countries, underscores the gender gap prevalent in the technology industry, particularly in developing regions like Africa.
Driven by stereotypes.
While attempting to address the problem of economic disparities in Africa, Tech4Dev has recognized the importance of bridging the digital divide and promoting digital access and literacy throughout the continent, given its rapidly expanding population and the evolving digital landscape.
However, during our efforts, we encountered a significant obstacle – the gender gap in the technology industry, largely fueled by cultural biases and stereotypes, especially in underserved regions. Consequently, we initiated the Women Techsters Initiative to tackle this challenge.
According to her, gender bias refers to the unfair treatment or perception of an individual or group based on their gender. To combat gender bias, it is essential to actively acknowledge and eliminate discriminatory attitudes and practices, ensure equal opportunities and representation, and establish inclusive environments that value diversity and respect for all genders.
An instance of gender bias can be observed in the development of technology products and services, where the preferences and experiences of male developers may lead to products that are less accessible or relevant to women.
This bias can also manifest in the recruitment and hiring practices of tech companies, leading to a lack of diversity in their workforce. Unfortunately, women in the tech industry are frequently subjected to discrimination and harassment, which creates a hostile work environment and restricts their opportunities for growth and advancement.
limited role models and mentors for women in the technology space
As per Oladepo’s perspective, the dearth of female role models and mentors in the technology realm plays a significant role in perpetuating gender bias and the under-representation of women in the industry. Women pursuing technology careers may face difficulty in finding female leaders or individuals with similar experiences to emulate and learn from, resulting in a sense of isolation and unwelcomeness.
Moreover, the absence of female mentors and role models in tech can constrain women’s networking opportunities, and hinder their professional growth and career advancement prospects. Tackling this issue necessitates initiatives that recognize and promote female tech leaders, as well as provide avenues for mentorship and community building among women in the industry.
These endeavors can inspire and assist the next generation of female tech pioneers and dismantle gender-based obstacles in the field.
Empowering women in the technology industry.
Oladepo announced that the Women Techsters Fellowship program has expanded its scope to include 22 African countries for the class of 2024, with the aim of addressing the existing challenges.
The program is open to eligible women in these countries, including Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, Egypt, South Africa, Ethiopia, DR Congo, Tanzania, Uganda, Algeria, Sudan, Morocco, Angola, Mozambique, Madagascar, Rwanda, Liberia, Botswana, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Sierra Leone, and Gambia.
Over the past five years, the Women Techsters Initiative has grown significantly, expanding its reach and impact. It began as a pilot program in Nigeria and impacted only 2,400 women, but it has now impacted 89,153 women in 2023 through various sub-programs.
The Women Techsters Initiative aims to reduce the gender gap in the technology industry and provide equal opportunities for everyone. It targets girls and women aged 16 to 40 across Nigeria and Africa, equipping them with digital, deep tech, and soft skills required for success in the technology industry.
Oladepo attributed the underrepresentation of women in the African tech industry to gender stereotypes and cultural biases. A recent report also confirms this, indicating that the vast majority of African developers are male, with only 18% of women representation. However, Oladepo remains hopeful that empowering women with technological skills will be the key to solving this problem.
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