Guest Post by: Tumi Frazier, founder of Tumi Frazier International
A recent study by Deloitte shows that women’s choices impact up to 85 percent of purchasing decisions. Women also account for $4.3 trillion of total US consumer spending of $5.9 trillion, making women the largest single economic force not just in the United States but in the world. These are powerful statistics.
Another report by Parks Associates further shows that more women are downloading movies and music, and also play computer games across different platforms, increasingly showing an ‘intent to purchase’.
So given these trends, if the majority or even half of the users of technology products are women, then surely it makes sound business sense to appoint them in leadership positions or encourage their business ownership in order to determine the strategic direction of these organizations.
Imagine for a moment the commercial impact that IT products and services would have if more women had direct input in their development, or were involved in building technologies that were fully informed by their needs. Yet ironically, the number of women in technology is less than one percent of the African continent's total IT workforce.
Interestingly, Ghana has more women running successful IT businesses, whilst others are heading large tech companies in the country. Mobile phones operators such as Airtel and Tigo, including Microsoft Ghana, are also led by women. Kenya is another country which is also doing well in closing the disparities between men and women in the technology sector.
"Imagine for a moment the commercial impact that IT products and services would have if more women had direct input in their development"
So, the Technology Industry is not without its impressive female role models. In fact, Lionesses of Africa recently profiled women running successful tech businesses in Africa. Moreover, there are a number of female tech founders and innovators such as Hilary Mason, the Founder of Fast Forward Labs and Data Scientist, and Helen Greiner the co-founder of iRobot.
According to the South African Institute of Information Technology Professionals, women in South Africa hold 20% of the positions in the country’s tech sector, whilst the global percentage of women in tech is 56%.
So, how do we harness the female interest in IT from an early age?
In 2004, Sheri Graner–Ray published the book, Gender-Inclusive Game Design, to encourage the male dominated world of twitch-and-war game developers to consider alternative audiences. She also encouraged girls to play these games, and as a result, they learned the architectural language of the design process. Since then, the proportion of women in the engineering and design sector, and in the computer games industry in particular, has increased due to the efforts of various individuals and organizations.
However, there is still a lot that needs to be done in this area in South Africa and the rest of the continent. There is a need to expose more girls to technology at an early age, and importantly, to have more visible female role models and mentors, including educational programmes that build girls’ confidence levels and technical skills.
Techno-girls, a UNICEF project in South Africa is one of the solutions that encourages corporate mentorship and skills development initiatives for girls in the tech sector.
Tumi Frazier is a South African entrepreneur, professional speaker, author, TV personality, consultant, and founder of Tumi Frazier International, Tumi Leadership Academy, and Tumi Foundation. Tumi is an internationally acclaimed Leadership and Change Management expert who has worked with high profile clients and organizations across Africa, United States and Europe. Tumi has authored 4 books: Courageous Stories of Inspiration; In the Midst of the Storm; Stepping Stones to Success; and Your Moment. Follow Tumi Twitter | LinkedIn