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It takes one to know one. Woman in Technology, that is.

By Rhonda Ritchie, Software Development Project Manager, Marval Software

It’s no news that our industry suffers low numbers of female workforce. Many ICT companies have been trying to address the issue for years, and practices like positive discrimination or diversity events are already considered common in the market.

While these efforts have brought more women into the industry, those are usually employed in roles which are not IT-related. The number of women who actually have a technical or leadership role remains embarrassingly low, despite all the time, money and effort spent on relevant projects and activities.

The problem resides in our reactive approach of course. Even after all these years and all the effort and discussions, we are still fire-fighting instead of finding the root cause and taking action to actually engage young women with our industry. We should be focusing our efforts on providing teenagers with the opportunity to explore and discover the unique sense of achievement and excitement that comes with the design and development of new products.

Because that’s where the real problem is. Either, due to the education systems across the globe, established stereotypical misconceptions, or the fact that the technical roles do not appear that exciting and appealing (although they can be), or for any other reason, many girls still won’t consider a career in IT. Sadly, this could mean they are missing out on a fantastic opportunity not only to have a satisfying and rewarding career, but to influence and shape future products or even the way people live and work.

Being a woman in technology myself having started out as a Software Developer, I can recognise the challenges for a woman who is just about to start her professional path in ICT, but I can also see the several, exciting advantages that come with it. I feel very strongly about the way we should be presenting these advantages to young girls. Our jobs are not dull and boring (well, not always, anyway). They can be intriguing, daunting, thrilling or even mind-blowing when we design a new product or feature, or get our hands on a brand new technology that we know is going to be “the next big thing”. We should be mentoring these young ladies through their first steps in our industry, while encouraging their further involvement and contributions.

At Marval Software we have just begun an exciting project, in collaboration with local schools, to spread the word to the girls and hopefully, help change their view about our industry. We are all very excited about it, particularly my female colleagues who are actively involved in the project. As a team, we shall be endorsing the ICT sector to young women to help them see it as we do – fulfilling, and so worthwhile.  

 

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