Women In Tech North Africa
Creating a level playing field for women in technology and improving access to speaker opportunities.
SUPPORTING NORTH AFRICA'S WOMEN IN TECHNOLOGY
When it comes to the role of African women in the world of technology, there are few countries where women are as strongly represented as Tunisia. Great focus was put on education for girls and boys in the country and this has been advantageous. Across Tunisia and the MEA, many women hold important positions in the technology sector.
With the tools to increase economic participation, everybody benefits. However, there are clearly still challenges to overcome. For example, women graduates have reported gender discrimination in internships (globally, not specific to Africa). By building environments that have a focus on tackling the gender gap across all levels, all companies can build an environment that attracts and nurtures talent.
Technology can also demystify older women, especially when the online space is perceived as not safe for many. In an interview with our media site Connecting Africa, Onica Makwakwa, Head of Africa at the Alliance for Affordable Internet, told our interviewer:
“It's important for us to recognize that it's not necessarily unique. We are importing the same disparities that we have in society to the online platforms, yet online we have an opportunity to really close those gaps. When you look at the current statistics, women are 50% less likely to use the Internet for the kind of transformative exercises that men use it for – looking for work, learning courses, etc.”
Lack of adequate digital skills for women to utilize the Internet beyond just social media is a key barrier for what keeps women offline, and consequently what deters them from a career in tech.
There is of course also a financial argument for supporting women in tech. Gender diversity in tech is smart economics. Forbes reported that although women receive 50% less venture capital funding, female-led global technology companies generate 35% higher returns than male-led companies.
North Africa has a great entrepreneurial spirit and there are a number of pioneers leading their field. In an interview for the UN’s Africa Renewal magazine, Eunice Baguma Ball, founder of Africa Technology Business Network (ATBN), emphasised how African women can reach their potential in the continent's emerging technology sector with the right incentives and the right support.
To celebrate International Women’s Day 2021, our partner event Africa Tech Festival put the spotlight on the benefits of supporting women in tech with a brand new eBook dedicated to accelerating women's careers in the technology sector. In the new eBook, Carolyn Dawson, Managing Director for Industry Verticals and Festivals at Informa Tech (producers of North Africa Com), shares actionable tips for helping build a culture that truly helps women rise to the top:
“We all have our own views and assumptions that could unfairly influence decision-making. Frequent unconscious bias training builds up momentum overtime to help build more inclusive workplaces that both attract and nurture a diverse range of talent.“.
They also interviewed Tinyiko Simbine, Co-Founder and CFO of GirlCode, and a Mail and Guardian Top 200 Young South Africans 2020 awardee, to find out about her experience and the barriers as a woman in tech. GirlCode started off as a hackathon to get more girls excited about tech and has grown to be the largest women in ICT lead organisation in South Africa. GirlCode has grown into a national non-profit organization impacting hundreds of young girls through various initiatives.
Tinyiko is a huge inspiration for the next generation of innovators and entrepreneurs, having spent the past 7 years managing the finances of GirlCode and growing GirlCode’s initiatives into nationwide, free, volunteer-led, weekend coding clubs designed for females of various ages. When asked about the barriers and limitations as a woman in tech she said:
“Maths and Science were always considered subjects for boys and historically girls were raised to believe that their place was in the kitchen and to raise kids, they were conditioned to believe that they were not good enough for anything else. And were never actually afforded the same opportunities as their male counterparts.
This matters because as a young girl or woman, it is important for you to have role models who look just like you to give you that extra push. When you have people who look just like you, to look up to. Your ability to thrive and succeed increases. Our vision is to create a network of women who are highly skilled in software development and leadership skills who will contribute towards an inclusive and innovative technology industry.”
Across our events, we’re committed to promoting inclusion and equality.
We have partnered with charities supporting the coding education of young people and run the A-Hub at East Africa Com and AfricaCom - this is an entire zone dedicated to connecting startups with investors. We also have a strong focus on spotlighting brilliant women in tech. But we know there's more to be done. So if you're a woman in tech in North Africa, or you would like to partner with us to support women in the space, then we want to hear from you.