Making the invisible visible: African women in Tech launches a major problem solver

Is technology a world for men only?

The world over, the tech industry is not a level playing field, as women are under-represented. And though the sector isn’t alone in its meagre representation of women, it is significantly worse than other sectors. Worse still, a research report warns that the gender gap in tech is widening as women are being held back by stereotypes and biases.

When a Google Developer Group for women was created in Ghana a few years ago, the organizers came under attack with men questioning the need for a women-only group, and further irritating responses like an email that said, “Leave them alone, maybe they want to create apps about menstrual periods together.”

In an article, Ghanaian techpreneur and pioneering member of Women in Tech Africa (WTA), Ethel Cofie, lamented the stereotype and bias against African women in the tech space, plus their unique challenges. These issues prompted her and three other women to launch and run the first Pan African women in tech virtual meet up which brought together over 150 women in tech roles across Africa.

Ethel Cofie Credit - WTA
Ethel Cofie
Credit – WTA

The successful meetup resulted in the establishment of a formal Pan-African Network of Women in Technology to provide effective support to women in technology across the African continent. Last week, the group launched an initiative, a database of female tech professionals.

“Our solution is simple, making the invisible visible; we have created a database of a cross section of our members and links to their LinkedIn profiles and tags of their specialties to help women in tech be found.”

This ingenious idea helps solve the problem of the dearth of women in Africa’s technological space, and women speakers at tech events. “In many organizations, the excuse for not having women in senior management teams or women in the pipeline of people they interview for available positions is that cannot find qualified women for these positions.”

The database is searchable by skill set, country and other details. So if you are a recruiter, or a tech event organizer, this should be a one stop source for you. Currently, there are over 270 women highlighted on the page, but WTA hopes to grow the database to over 5000 women across all of Africa. However, if you are questioning the importance of having more women in tech, here are a few reasons why the female folks complete the equation.

More Money and greater creativity

Companies that embrace diversity gain higher market share and a competitive edge in accessing new markets – a ‘diversity dividend’ first quantified in a study by the Center for Talent Innovation (CTI). Also, a diverse workforce gives organizations a broader range of ideas and insights to draw on, in decision making and policy development. Diversity makes good business sense.

Credit - Light Reading

Credit - Light Reading
Credit – Light Reading

Others reasons are improved clients services, competitive management practices, and the overall growth of our countries, and continent. “No industry or country can reach its full potential until all women reach their full potential. And this is especially true in science and technology, where women with a surplus of talent still face a deficit of opportunity.” – Sheryl Sandberg

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