Every year on the fourth Thursday in April, the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) and the global technology community celebrate ‘Girls in ICT Day’, an awareness-raising initiative designed to promote studies and careers in technology to a new generation of girls and young women with an interest in becoming ICT creators.
“We need more women in ICT! This initiative is important to the team as individuals and the company as a whole”, says Nomanini CEO, Vahid Monadjem. “As individuals, we want to contribute to a more level playing field for everybody. As a business, we have a special appreciation of the power diversity across all dimensions. We pride ourselves in designing solutions for often overlooked stakeholders in informal markets. Diversity helps us do this by avoiding preconceived notions that can quietly emerge in homogenous teams.”
In this vein, Nomanini hosted a workshop in partnership with GirlHype, a local organisation whose aim it is to empower young women and girls with digital and media education skills.
Nomanini’s Commercial Officer, Kuda Mushambi adds that, “Leadership in technology certainly involves designing and building amazing technology, however it means more. It means encouraging a spectrum of diversity in the workplace, providing opportunities for those who are interested and inspiration to the next generation of inventors, engineers and entrepreneurs who will unlock the visions of the future. Our observation was that involvement in previous years from South African technology firms (ours included) in this global effort was lacking the leadership that those involved in our community clearly have. Thus, we chose to become involved to both inspire these young women that careers in technology are exciting, important and available to them and inspire ourselves and others in our community to begin to take a leadership role in this important effort.”
20 high school girls from Grade 9 – 11 from various schools in Khayelitsha spent the day at Nomanini’s offices.
The main goal was to broaden the awareness of these young women aware of the vast possibilities offered by ICTs and give them the confidence to pursue ICT studies and careers.
Nomanini did this through sharing stories and experiences in the field of technology and the industry in general. Team members shared various anecdotes and insights into the difference between studying tech at a university or technikon, how to develop ideas, how to start a company, why company culture is a huge factor when choosing a job as well as interview tips.
Guest speaker Lynette Hundermark, co-founder, MD and Chief Product Officer at Useful & Beautiful, shared her journey with the girls. They were particularly interested to hear her top tips gained through 17 years in the technology industry. “It was indeed an honour for me to share my journey as a female in the tech space with the new generation of geek girls. Their excitement and enthusiasm reminded me of why I made the decision in high school to be in this space and I hope that my personal experiences gave them the inspiration to persevere in this dynamic and evolving space, irrespective of their life changes whether it is a scholar, student, young adult, wife and/or mother”. “
Cape Town has a large and well-connected technology industry which should be doing more to promote girls in technology. There are many companies in Cape Town that are extremely well-placed to empower, connect and support women in technology. These organisations can provide the access and opportunities needed to advance careers, pursue their dreams, and inspire women and girls in their own communities.
Nomanini hopes to spread the word about this global initiative and encourage other organisations, in Cape Town in particular, to host their own events and build a community of young, empowered women pursuing careers in technology.