As technology becomes an integral part of our daily lives now and more so in the future, there has been ongoing discussions and concerns regarding the alarming low number of women working in most of the Tech giants such as Google, Microsoft, Apple and Facebook among others.
In the United States, women hold less than 25% of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) jobs. In the UK, women now make up 46% of the country’s workforce, but hold only 15.5% of the STEM jobs this excludes medicine, which has a high representation of women. Each year the number of women studying and pursuing careers in technology goes down by 0.5% thus by 2043 at the current trend less than 1% of the global tech workforce will be female.
Earlier this month at a conference focused on women and tech, the Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella suggested women shouldn’t ask for a raise and instead believe the system will take care of them. Women represent 29 percent of Microsoft’s workforce, with only 17 percent working directly in technology. A new report published in September said women at tech companies earn $6,358 less than their male counterparts, while women with at least one child earn $11,247 less than everyone else.
According to an article by TechRepublic, Tech companies often draw criticism for being exclusive and lacking diversity. They compiled a list of ten companies that have released diversity numbers to the public. Google, twitter and Apple employees are 70% male and 30% female, Facebook employees are 69% male and 31% female globally.
According to an article for CNN by Ethel Cofie– a Ghanaian tech entrepreneur, all across Africa, the number of women entering the tech industry is improving thanks to the several non profit groups teaching girls how to code and the bigger availability of funds. As a result, more women are training to become tech professionals. Yet, a large number of them are having to leave their jobs after a few years as they can’t break the glass ceiling in an industry that’s still largely male-dominated.
We highlight some of the organisations working towards changing the perception of African Women towards taking up careers in Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) as well as offer the required skills training and support structures.
1. WAAW Foundation (US)
WAAW (Working to Advance STEM Education for African Women) Foundation is a US-based non-profit organization founded in 2007. Our mission is to increase the participation of African girls in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) related disciplines, and to ensure that this talent is engaged in African innovation.
2. AkiraChix (Kenya)
AkiraChix is an organisation that started out of the iHub and aims to inspire and develop a successful force of women in technology who will change Africa’s future. Akirachix has currently collaborated with iHub in hosting various monthly or quarterly events that target young women to give them exposure, mentorship and hear from role models in the tech space. Some of these programs include Girls in ICT day that is held every year and Mobile garage that aims to create sustainable businesses for the knowledge economy through mobile applications for development, business incubation and technology entrepreneurship. They will be holding the inaugural Pan African Women in Technology Conference later this year.
3. Tech Needs Girls (Ghana)
Soronko Solutions the main organizers of the event is a software development powerhouse and a social enterprise dedicated to developing the next generation of innovators and problem solvers in the field of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) for rural Ghanaian children.
4. Asikana Network ( Zambia)
Asikana Network is an organisation that seeks to empower women and girls through technology
5. Women in Technology Uganda (WITUG)
The WITUG aims to support women’s local capacity building and skills development in Technology and Business in Uganda through training, mentor-ship, networking and knowledge sharing in order to drive economic and sustainable development
6. STEMBees (Ghana)
STEMbees is a non-profit organisation founded by software entrepreneurs and MEST 2014 alumnae, Angela Koranteng and Linda Ansong in response to the tremendous gender gap prevalent in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) fields. STEMbees seeks to encourage and mentor more young African women to pursue their dreams and careers in STEM.
7. The Women Technology Empowerment Center (Nigeria)
The Women’s Technology Empowerment Centre, W.TEC, is a Nigerian non-governmental organisation working to empower girls and women socially and economically, using information and communication technologies (ICTs).
8. The African Centre for Women, Information and Communications Technology (ACWICT) – Kenya
Their mission is To promote women’s access to and knowledge of ICT as tools for social, economic, and political advancement. ACWICT achieves this by advocating for gender-responsive ICT policies, laws, and regulations; building ICT skills and capacity of women and women’s organizations; creating networks for knowledge and information sharing; generating and disseminating knowledge through research and awareness activities; and connecting beneficiaries of ICTs to other resources; linking private sector to the development arena; and linking women beneficiaries of ICT4D to fiscal and technical resources.
9. Women who Mentor & Innovate in Africa -WMIAfrica (Kenya)
WMIAfrica, is an online platform (in development) that seeks to mitigate the lack of access to information, role models and skills facing young women interested in pursuing Science, Technology , Engineering and Mathematics studies and careers. WMIAfrica provides a platform for virtual & physical mentoship for girls and young women interested in STEM by professional Women Mentors working in STEM fields.
10. STEM Africa
STEMAfrica was founded with the aim of making a key contribution to the alleviation of poverty in Africa through the application of Science Technology Engineering and Math. (STEM). The organisation aims to make a difference by influencing young people to focus on Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. STEMAfrica has a vision to make business and society leaders out of STEM professionals. STEMAfrica also runs programs specifically for girls and young women.
Google RISE Awards are grants for organizations across the globe that:
-Promote Computer Science (CS) education
-Run initiatives that reach girls, under-represented minorities, and students facing socio-economic barriers under age 18