Technology jobs for women in Africa are rare. Even in the United States, women make up only 30 percent of the technology industry, based on reports filed by top technology companies including Google and Microsoft.
With one of the most influential nations in the world struggling with gender equality in the tech sector, it’s not surprising that women from the developing world face similar struggles in their search for skilled employment.
The problem of technology jobs for women in Africa was a topic of conversation at the 2015 meeting of the International Telecommunication Union in Geneva, where the goal was set to include more women in technology jobs in southern Africa.
Judith Owigar, a founding member of AkiraChix, a nonprofit that promotes African women in the technology sector, was a guest speaker at the event in Geneva.
She shared why technology jobs for women in Africa are vital to the success of modern communities. She says that Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) opens up employment opportunities for women of small communities in the developing world.
“ICT is important because it can be used for development, especially in developing countries,” said Owigar. “It is a tool that can be used to lift most of the population from poverty to a level where they can make money to support themselves and their families.”
AkriaChix in Nairobi, Kenya aims to promote technology jobs for women in Africa. The company manages a technical training program that specifically recruits young women from poor backgrounds throughout Nairobi.
Each year the company sponsors 30 academically-driven young women to enroll in an intensive programming course, design studies and entrepreneurship classes. Women who are successful in the technology industry mentor these students.
AkiraChix hires students for community service or internship positions at the end of the course. The goal is to offer women with little opportunity a way to achieve financial independence and escape poverty through education.
In southern Africa, many young girls are unable to attend school because of their workload at home. According to the World Bank, poverty decreases when more women and girls are educated and secondary education can lead to a 10-20 percent increase in wages.
This increase shows educational advancement is crucial to financial independence for young women in Nairobi. World Education News and Reviews says the number of students enrolling for college in Kenya has grown 28 percent since 2014.
A World Bank study found women who work in male-dominated industries make up to three times as much as women who work traditional jobs in Uganda. The technology sector is one of the fastest growing industries in the world.
“Technology empowers the people who use it to create solutions for themselves,” said Owigar. “So we don’t have to wait for solutions from another country. We can use the tools we have to create our own solutions.”