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The Perceptions and Experiences of Female ICT Leaders in South African Organisations Nina Evans.

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1 The Perceptions and Experiences of Female ICT Leaders in South African Organisations Nina Evans

2 The South African situation Constitution of South Africa, Act No 108, 1996: “a society based on democratic values” “social justice and fundamental human rights” “every citizen is equally protected by law” “free the potential of each person” Rights and freedom of women an integral part of the transformation process since ’94. President Thabo Mbeki: “no economy can meet its potential if any part of its citizens is not fully integrated into all aspects of that economy”.

3 And yet… The BWA Research 2005 - Census on the position of women in professional positions in South Africa. Companies listed on the main board of the JSE Securities Exchange and (355) 17 large state owned enterprises (SOEs) on 30 September Women make up 52.1% of the adult population in SA and 41.3% of the working SA population. Women constitute only 19.8% of all executive managers in SA. Only 10.7% of all company directors and 6.2% of CEO and board chairs in the country are women.

4 The ICT Charter The ICT sector is recognized by government as being of strategic importance to the future growth and prosperity of South Africa’s economy, as it is amongst the top 5 sectors in terms of its contribution to the GDP of South Africa. One of the main objectives of the charter is to increase the extent to which women - especially black women - participate meaningfully in all areas of the ICT sector.

5 Women in technology initiatives  The Association of SA women in Science and Engineering (SA-WISE)  Women in ICT (WICT)  Technology for Women in Business (TWIB)  Techno-girl  National Science and Technology programme  SA reference group on Women in Science and Technology (SARG) … and many more

6 And yet…. Women are still under-represented in the ICT industry How critical is this situation in South Africa?

7 What happens at school/university? Why don’t girls in SA enter into IT courses? What (who?) motivates girls to choose to study IT? The role of the teacher? Computer studies at school level? Gender- inclusive classroom practices? Only 8 out of 127 women were motivated to study IT by their career guidance teacher. With what expectations do IT girls approach their studies?

8 The Business-IT interface Chicken-and-egg situation: The failure of ICT projects cause relationship problems and inherent relationship problems cause project failure (“us versus them”). A truly collaborative partnership between business and IT requires a different mindset from both ICT and the business clients. Companies should aim for business-ICT ‘fusion’. (A merging of divorced, distinct, or separate elements into a unified whole).

9 Why do we want more women in ICT? Not just for the numbers. The ICT industry really needs their skills

10 Research on female ICT leaders Online questionnaire. What are the perceptions and experiences of female ICT leaders in SA companies? Focus of the research: 1.A female perspective of the business-IT interface 2.The challenges for female ICT leaders 3.The strengths and characteristics of female ICT leaders to bridge the Business-ICT gap 4.Success factors for females in the ICT industry

11 Demographics Companies of varying size and across many different industries. 48% are in senior and executive management positions and 33.1% in middle management. 69.3% have a partner and 67.7% have children. 45.7% of the participants have a national diploma or a B degree. 38.6% have postgraduate qualifications. Only 6% have no post-matric qualification. 71% White, 18% Black, 8% Coloured and 2% Asian.

12 Female Perception of fusion The most important reasons for non-fusion, as ranked by the women: 1.Ineffective communication. 2.Lack of knowledge transfer between ICT and the business. 3.Lack of skills, attributes and attitudes of ICT personnel (technical- business- and especially soft skills). 4.Business managers do not take enough responsibility for the business-ICT relationship and project success.

13 “There is a bad relationship between the business world and the IT world. Much work needs to be done to bring these two worlds together.” “Interrelation is still major problem for ICT and business.” “The lack of communication and relationship building from ICT people leads to a negative attitude towards them by clients.” ”I think generally there is a lack of communication between ICT and Business. There is a gap that needs some hard work.”

14 Women have special characteristics Participants felt that women are generally …  able to multi-task  more humane in their approach to business  better communicators  more willing to share knowledge  willing to ask when they don’t know something  better relationship builders  able to see the bigger picture.  More persistent … than men

15 “I have found in my business that women on the whole are more patient than men.” “Women are better teachers and communicate better than men.” “I think in general that women tend to listen more.” “The natural service orientation of women helps meet client needs.” “Women are more sensitive, which means we pick up nuances and undercurrents better than men. You do get the exceptions, but they are by far the minority.”

16 Women’s important role in fusion Women are generally good at communicating Women are natural educators and listen more Women have the ability to acquire the necessary technical skills to add to their interpersonal skills Women are often the relationship managers within families and at work It seems that women have a wealth of EQ and an understanding of social and cultural issues

17 Do women realise that they have an important part to play in the industry? How can these special characteristics be channeled to the important ICT industry? Why do women leave an ICT career?

18 We need to know … Why then, are women under- represented in the ICT industry? How many women have IT qualifications, but do not work in the industry? Which types of positions do women mostly fill in the ICT industry?

19 Challenges women face in ICT 1.Work-family conflict 2.Lack of female role models 3.Women’s contributions are not valued 4.Negative perception & stereotyping of women in general 5.The masculine nature of ICT 6.Negative perception & stereotyping of ICT employees specifically 7.Salary inequity 8.Culture issues and a negative societal attitude towards women in ICT

20 The majority agree that the challenges are different for men and women:  Women have to prove themselves more to get recognition  Sexual harassment  Women lack self-efficacy  Skills shortage (especially technical skills)  Tokenism and BEE prejudice  Discrimination against Whites Other challenges for women in ICT

21 “Women have to look after the family, but men often cannot support the family. Women are left with the burden of supporting and looking after the family.” “I believe that while men might logically acknowledge the competence of women, there is sometimes an internal struggle in terms of how they see women in society.” “Females are fitted into a certain category and it is hard to break through that barrier.” “I think men bargain harder and end up with a better compensation package.”

22 Another interesting question… What can be done to help women overcome these challenges? Are women leaving the corporate environment to start their own business, because of these challenges? and, if they do Do they start businesses in the ICT field (or coffee shops/guest houses)?

23 Interventions What interventions are done to motivate girls to enter into the ICT field, and what interventions are aimed at motivating them to stay in an ICT career? How successful are the interventions? Who should initiate these interventions? (Companies, government, other organisations)

24 Success factors for the world of ICT 1.Hard work 2.Determination/diligence/ drive to succeed/decisive 3.People/relationship skills, 4.Leadership skills and seeing the bigger picture 5.Dedication and commitment 6.Results/goal orientation 7Passion/interest for the field of work 8.Willingness to learn 9.Persistence, patience and perseverance 10.Role models and support from other people 11.Intellect and talent/aptitude/ technical ability 12.Service orientation and Customer focus

25 “The ICT industry is not only about technology, but also increasingly about people, their needs and business goals.” How do we get the message out that women have an important role in bridging the business-IT gap? How can women be motivated and prepared for this industry?

26 Thank you for your attention…

27 Suggestions from the audience

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