Robyn Farah
May 17, 2017 · 3 min read

The realization that your country is lacking the data that is needed for it to progress. Challenge accepted!

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While writing a pitch for donors to show them why sponsoring our tech communities is the best investment they can make, I discovered that South Africa has NO data on females* in the tech industry. Be it women working for tech companies or female tech entrepreneurs.

This leaves me with a HUGE hurdle which I am happy to tackle, but this cannot be done alone!

Basically it is hard for our Women in Tech groups to progress without numbers, as we have no idea what it is that we are trying to overcome. Sure we can continue to have female in tech events, workshops, etc, but unless we are measuring how many new women are entering into tech or creating their own tech company thanks to us, our work ends up being mundane and pointless.

When you read/listen to this amazing these articles/podcasts:

They cover things like:

“Our research findings show that on the lower rungs of corporate career ladders, fully 41% of highly qualified scientists, engineers, and technologists are women. But the dropout rates are huge: Over time 52% of these talented women quit their jobs. Most strikingly, this female exodus is not a steady trickle. Rather, there seems to be a key moment in women’s lives — in their mid to late thirties — when most head for the door.”

“Just 8.3 percent of venture capital-funded U.S. tech startups founded in 2014 were led by women CEOs, according to PitchBook.”

“In middle school, 74 percent of girls express interest in STEM subjects, but when choosing a college major, just 0.4 percent of high school girls select computer science, according to Girls Who Code.”

“We need to change the perception of science and math as masculine fields by providing girls with female role models, and giving them hands-on experience with all different kinds of technology.”

“The U.S. Department of Labor projects that by 2020 there will be” “1.4 million jobs will open in computer science by 2020, yet we’ll have enough qualified graduates to fill just 29 percent of them — and less than 3 percent will be filled by women.”

Now picture that you are getting stats for South Africa when you read/listen to these articles/podcasts. We have very similar issues to the U.S., but none of our own stats to fill in for the issues covered. When we (South Africa’s referring to females in tech/female entrepreneurs) have to use information to back up our points, we have to pull data from overseas articles/journals which is WRONG! Although we face similar issues, we are a very different country, with multiple cultures, multiple different issues and let’s not forget that we also have a huge class and race gap that needs to be tackled along side this.

So what’s next…

We need to collect the local data and from there to devise a way to change and improve things. We already have create initiatives like: WomEng, Code4CT, GirlHype, codeX to name a few, that are educating females in STEM, all of which we try very work closely with.

We (KATO’s tech communities) aim to collect this data and from there guide and encourage females to become tech entrepreneurs, educate females in tech that are already working but want to change focus, connect employers to employees and run mentorship programs.

Stay tuned, and let’s hope that we get the ball rolling sooner rather than later.

*female/women in this article refers to anyone that considers themselves a female.

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