Lindie Ferreira of Logicalis Talks Challenges for African Women in STEM

1 year ago 3874
Lindie Ferreira, Managing Executive of Practices & Solutions at Logicalis.

August is Women’s Month in South Africa – and this month IT News Africa has been connecting with women in technology to provide needed signal-boosting for individuals in an industry that, especially in Africa, is male-dominated.

ITNA’s Luis Monzon had the opportunity to reach out to Lindie Ferreira, Managing Executive of Practices & Solutions at Logicalis, about why it is important for African women and girls to turn to and embrace STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) fields, the advantages for the continent if more African women turn to STEM, and the challenges currently preventing this from happening.

Here’s what transpired:

  • Why should more women in Africa go into STEM fields? What are the advantages to this in terms of individuals and in terms of the continent as a whole?

Information technology is one of the fastest-growing industries, and technical innovation will play a crucial role in almost every sector of the continent’s economies.

Especially in a country like South Africa, where we have huge opportunities to improve how we do business from simple automation to IoT!  We also have the opportunity to export IT skills to other countries at a much lower cost thus creating even more opportunities in the STEM field.

Superior innovation is achieved by having a diverse team where members can challenge each other and bring new perspectives. By nature, interacting with a diverse team forces individuals to prepare better and anticipate alternative viewpoints.

The presence of women makes individuals anticipate differences in opinion and perspective and makes them assume that they will need to work harder to come to a consensus.  

Men and women see things differently and bring unique ideas to the table. This enables better problem solving and boosts performance at a business unit level. Imagine all of the buying power you will tap into by bringing together a mix of genders with various backgrounds and ethnicities.  

  • What are the challenges preventing more women in Africa from pursuing STEM-related degrees and therefore finding STEM-related occupations?

The tech world is still a man’s world, and some of the reasons include the lack of female mentors, gender inequality in STEM jobs, and not having enough hands-on experience with STEM subjects.

By celebrating female tech leaders, it will hopefully encourage more girls to pursue their interests and careers in tech, thus increasing the hiring pool diversity.

We need to ensure young girls have strong role models of other successful women in STEM and that women have a seat at the table so they can engage men on the topic of gender equality.

  • How has the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic affected these challenges? Has it made it more difficult or easier for women to pursue STEM fields?

Whilst many would advocate that COVID-19 was in many cases a massive challenge for the workforce, it accelerated the growth of the STEM field and how technology gets embraced.

Women can now more easily operate from home and balance being a mother, for example, and at the same hold a high pressured career. The flexibility that came with COVID-19 has changed the way we work, operate and think about the work environment.

With the growth in the STEM field, more opportunities are created for men and women alike and also by default created much more awareness about the IT field.

  • What does the current technology landscape in Africa look like in terms of women representation?

In the STEM field, there are still very few female leaders & and in general, there are far fewer women in the field as it is still perceived as a male industry.

Being a woman in IT is not always easy, and being the only woman in the boardroom at times can put unseen pressure on you. Role models made a huge difference in my life because until I saw people who looked and sounded like me in leadership positions, it was difficult to believe that I could one day make it that far.

When you bring women into senior roles, you demonstrate that other women have an opportunity to succeed, too.

  • Do you foresee a future in which more African women are interested in and successfully seek STEM-related fields and ICT?

By celebrating female tech leaders, it will hopefully encourage more girls to pursue their interests and careers in tech, thus increasing the hiring pool diversity.

We need also need more ICT aligned subjects at schools to get girls interested in the topic from a very young age.

By Luis Monzon
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