Numbers of women in ICT grows
Published 21 Nov 19
Over the years women and girls have gradually become involved in the science and technological studies to the extent that they are now visible in information and communication technologies (ICTs) in a range of exciting ways, The increased uptake of girls for IT subjects at schools was so encouraging that their future in the technology sector looks bright. In an interview, an IT educator at Ghanzi Senior Secondary School, Mr Badiredi Rammokolodi, noted that boys’ enrollment used to be dominant at schools but now there was a balance. Mr Rammokolodi’s observation was that girls were more conversant in theory compared to boys who are more on the practical of side. He noted that girls seemed to be reluctant to and lacked the boldness to explore and handle the hardware side of the training. He said girls often had challenges in troubleshooting, which saw them always asking their male counterparts while they could be boldly taking risks and exploring possibilities. Despite that, Mr Rammokolodi said as teachers they encouraged girls to choose a career in ICT fields, adding that in his school they were fortunate to have a lady IT teacher to whom girl students relate well, getting motivated. Although government does not have ICT initiatives targeted solely at the girl child, there are programmes targeted at youth across the gender divide through the Ministry of Youth, Sport and Culture such as the e-Innovation Youth Empowerment. Nevertheless, Mr Rammokolodi cited that in the past, universities used to go into schools to encourage girl students to take careers in ICTs as girl students were known to be in non-science or technical career fields. Meanwhile, Deputy Director of Corporate Communications and Relations of Botswana Communications Regulatory Authority (BOCRA) Mr Aaron Nyelesi noted that the e-Innovation Youth Empowerment programme was there to encourage young people to submit feasible business proposals in the ICTs. Mr Nyelesi also added that there was the commemoration of international Girls in ICT Day through the Ministry of Transport and Communications. Mr Nyelesi also explained that there was The international Girls in ICT Day meant to sensitize and encourage the girl child to consider careers in the ICT field. “Partners such as Microsoft also have initiatives such as DiGi Girls that also served to encourage the girl child to go into ICTs,” stated Mr Nyelesi. That said, Mr Rammokolodi said measures to motivate girls to take up science and technology for higher education should be in place. He challenged companies and government sectors to incorporate more young women for internship programmes in order to balance or increase numbers of young women in ICT fields. He is also of the view that higher institutions should come up with quotas for girls to try and close the gender gap in ICTs. Still at higher institutions, Mr Rammokolodi noted that such schools could use excelling girl students to go out and encourage other girl students at high schools to pursue ICT careers. However, Botswana is fortunate enough as the education system never disadvantaged the girl child compared to the boy child. According to Mr Nyelesi, career paths along gender lines were largely encouraged by culture and societal norms and values. He therefore noted that while the policy might be in place at closing the ICT gender gap, “what is more critical is strive to change the attitude of the girl child through continuous education, role models and mentoring.” He said because of the increase in numbers of women in ICTs and technical fields, the country will have more women as role models for the girl child to emulate.