Women in tech on film…

We made a video! It’s part retrospective of the last #WomeninTechZA networking event and part invite (to men & women in tech) to the next at Fak’ugesi. With thanks to sponsor Business Connexion for all the support! ūüôā

Get your tickets for Monday’s event with Debbie Rogers from Praekelt & Business Connexion’s Grace Dipale here:¬†https://www.quicket.co.za/events/7372-womenintechza-networking-event/

https://youtu.be/TF-L3sXYzss

 

 

Jennifer Bezuidenhout

Name: Jennifer Bezuidenhout

Jennifer Bezuidenhout

Jennifer Bezuidenhout

Designation: Technical Director / Co-founder

Company: Viga Interactive, Taggo, Boulot

What do you do every day? I hustle. My days vary considerably, some days I’m swamped with admin and strategy meetings, some days I’m in back to back usability tests, other days I just code or create architecture, but every day I manage a team and client’s projects.

How did you get into the tech space? I started my career in the graphic design industry. Even while studying I wasn’t convinced of this weird exotic thing called coding, but one day I was asked to develop a website instead of just designing it, and so I started coding. I started my first registered company at 25, unfortunately it failed just over a year later. The failure of my first business resulted in a knock to my confidence, from which it took a while to recover from. When I started my next company, however, I was a lot more knowledgeable, stronger and wiser.

What was the best advice anyone ever gave you? Stay humble. As entrepreneurs we have to be confident, sometimes even arrogant, so it is difficult to remain humble all the time. When I succeed in staying humble it keeps me honest, grateful, and makes me a better listener. All of which tends to come in handy in the big bad world of business.

What advice would you given someone wanting to get into the tech sector? Never stop learning. Things move fast in the tech space and you need to stay up to date and relevant, when it comes to new technology and trends.

Another essential piece of advice I would give is to create rock solid specification documents. Because there are always issues around communication, a good spec can avoid misunderstandings.

What motivates you to get out of bed everyday? The possibility of a game changer. Every day I’m excited about the prospects that particular day can bring, you never know what’s around the corner and how it can make your business a success.

Who do you want to be when you grow up? I love being an entrepreneur. Yes, it is extremely difficult and sometimes I think I must be crazy. The reason I keep pushing is that someday when I’m all grown up I can look back and say it was all worth it, I helped build some really cool stuff.

Twitter: @VIGAInteractive
LinkedIn: https://za.linkedin.com/in/jennifer-bezuidenhout-26484235

Catalysts for change

For women, working in the male-dominated technology sector, it’s important to keep in touch with who you are, and what you, as women, bring to the table. It’s also important to look beyond the immediate deadline, or sales target, or quarter, and take the time to give back to those around you.

Account Manager at EMC Eleanor Masher and Delia Naicker, Senior Project Manager didn’t set out to be heroines, in fact, to their friends and colleagues the sociable pair didn’t seem likely candidates for athletic prowess, at all. Then tragedy struck, and the pair decided to do something exceptional.

 

Women in tech need to speak out

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Gender diversity is an ongoing challenge for many industries, including ICT. In South Africa, women make up only 23% of the IT workforce. If the sector is going to attract and retain more women, action needs to be taken.

EMC client solutions director Charlene George, says women in the sector need to speak out , share their experiences and show young women and girls, particularly, that there are women in the tech sector and that it offers a wide range of career options.

‚ÄúWe also need to address the stigma that girls don‚Äôt enjoy math and that they¬†therefore can‚Äôt be good at it,‚ÄĚ she says.

Comments EMC¬†channel sales leader¬†Chipo Msimanga, ‚ÄúIt starts in the classroom, we need to look at¬†how we teach these subjects ‚Äď are we keeping children excited and engaged¬†when we‚Äôre teaching maths and science? We need to keep it relevant ‚Äď instead of¬†talking to people about speeds and feeds, talk about technology in a way that‚Äôs¬†pertinent to what‚Äôs happening today. For example, I used to have to rush home to¬†catch my favourite show at 7pm, now we have PVRs, so I don‚Äôt need to do that.¬†That‚Äôs IT, and it‚Äôs part of our lives.‚ÄĚ

Watch the full interview here:

For more information about Diversity & Inclusion in EMC Southern Africa, feel free to contact Sonelia du Preez, Marketing Lead: Africa on email: sonelia.dpureez@emc.com, or visit:  www.southafrica.emc.com.

WomeninTechZA at Fak’ugesi

WomeninTechZA is thrilled to invite you to our second Johannesburg networking event, sponsored by Business Connexion, to be held at the Fakugesi Digital Innovation Festival on 29 August.

Come and listen to Praekelt Foundation GM Debbie Rogers speaking on how Praekelt Foundation has designed and implemented mobile technology solutions to empower women in lower and middle income countries and why they believe that uplifting women and girls is one of the most important investments that can be made to reduce poverty and improve people’s health and wellbeing.

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Date: 29 August
Time: 3-30pm – 5:30pm
Venue: Tshimologong, 47 Juta Street, Johannesburg, South Africa, 2000

Tickets are R100, include cocktails and snacks, and can be purchased here: https://www.quicket.co.za/events/7372-womenintechza-networking-event/#/

Technology is not a boy’s club

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Women in technology garner a lot of attention, perhaps because they work in a sector known for its overwhelming male presence. This despite the fact that some of technology’s earliest pioneers were female, such as the inventor of programming, Ada Lovelace, or Hedy Lamarr, the film star and sex icon who also pioneered frequency hopping, used in mobile phones today.

 Technology is behind the curve. Though over half of professional occupations in the United States are held by women, a mere quarter of professional technology jobs can make the same claim. Some argue that women are simply poorly suited for technology, lacking the logic and mathematical savvy to compete against men. A few even assert that women are simply riskier. 

Disproving such generalisations is easy, but the stigma is harder to purge. To Patricia Florissi, VP & Global CTO of Sales at EMC and a technology polymath, this perception is more about a lack of representation:¬†‚ÄúIf more opportunities were given to women, especially at senior levels, then you would be able to see more of a sample of female leadership that would change some of the biases. It is a self-fulfilling prophecy: the fewer women you have in leadership, the more biases you create, because you don’t have enough samples to create an accurate image of how women act and how successful they can be.‚ÄĚ

Under-representation sabotages opportunities for women, says Florissi. But she doesn’t pin this on a misogynist culture. People think of those they know and consequently offer opportunities to whoever is front of mind. If an organisation is understaffed with women, odds are that women will not be considered as candidates merely due to a lack of visibility.

One could argue that gender should have nothing to do with it, that it is all about the best candidate. This is true, but Florissi warns of a larger danger if diversity is not part of a company‚Äôs outlook:¬†‚ÄúWe need to treat women in technology as a real issue, because we’re talking about fifty percent of the population, about digital transformation that is suffering from a deficit in intellectual capital and yet we leave half of the population behind. This is a business imperative. Where you don’t have diversity, you don’t have cognitive diversity, so you are in a position of disadvantage. We can only solve that together.‚ÄĚ

¬†The need for diverse, out-of-the-box thinkers has never been greater. Technology needs women: the problems and opportunities of the world cannot be tackled from just one vantage point. Creating diversity in gender and creed is what helps companies evolve and open new channels. Everyone has a role to play in making this shift happen. As Maya Angelou said: ‚ÄúNothing will work unless you do.‚ÄĚ

For more information about Diversity & Inclusion in EMC Southern Africa, feel free to contact Sonelia du Preez, Marketing Lead: Africa on email: sonelia.dpureez@emc.com, or visit:  www.southafrica.emc.com.

Prathna Singh

Name: Prathna Singh Prathna Singh

Designation: Digital Lead ‚Äď Health & Public Service

Company: Accenture

What do you do every day? Working for a global technology consulting firm, I work with clients in the Health & Public Service domain, to proactively adapt and react to technological change. In an era of technology advancement, I find great fulfilment in reimagining their operations enabling them and their customers to reap the benefits. I love being part of the Health & Public Service space because we do work that matters and work that impacts the wellbeing of citizens. This includes the improvement of service delivery, enabling trust and transparency, increased customer and citizen engagement, optimal cost of operations and innovation through technology. I spend my days working with our Digital teams to craft solutions that help my clients create business value whilst remaining efficient.

As a digital technologist, I have an understanding of the technologies that are disrupting businesses and governments. We live in a world of instant gratification. Organisations and entrepreneurs are quickly innovating to deliver delightful experiences and services to citizens in a convenient and reliable way. So in order to best partner with my clients, it is imperative that I spend my days continuously applying my understanding of digital technologies to their world, providing them with the ability to leapfrog the competition and remain relevant.

I spend my days at Accenture working with an array of people that come from diverse cultures. Having spent 5 years working abroad with Accenture in San Francisco, Singapore, and across various countries in Europe, I have a strong appreciation for cultural intelligence and teaming. I am energized by working with people from all walks of life. I am particularly passionate about encouraging and inspiring our women in digital and take an active role in initiatives that provide the platforms for women to excel in this area.

How did you get into the tech space? I actually won a computer through a maths competition when I was 12 years old. Makes me wonder had I not won a computer if I would have ventured in this field, but I am so glad that I did. Back then, computers were really novel and new and gaining access to one at a young age peaked my interest. I spent many days learning how to use it, playing games, dabbling with e-mail and the internet. This led to my passion for it. I remember visiting a school friend at her home and her elder sister had decided to study in the field. She explained what her job would entail after she completed her studies. I remember it sounding a lot like a doctor for businesses in order to make them perform at their best. I quite liked this version of a doctor Рto be able to consult and advise on technology in business.

What was the best advice anyone ever gave you?¬†It would have to be the advice that my father gave me whilst growing up. I am the second of¬†three girls. In his words when he spoke to us about education and career, ‚Äėthere is nothing a¬†boy can do that a girl cannot do, you can do well at anything you want to if you give it your¬†all‚Äô. Those words empowered me from a really young age to believe in myself and to¬†embrace my strengths in the areas of mathematics and science. I made decisions to study¬†Computer Science at High school and at University and although I was part of a minority¬†group of women in those classes, I remained positive and confident because of the support¬†and belief that was instilled in me.

If I reflect on some of the milestones I have achieved, I attribute a lot of them to raising my hand to take on a challenging role, to having the bold conversation with my supervisor in order to explore new avenues at work, backing myself through my work outputs and decisions, always respectful and always knowing there was always going to be more to learn. It was the best advice anyone had ever given me. Turns out when you believe in yourself, others do too.

What advice would you given someone wanting to get into the tech sector? This is the most exciting time get into the tech sector. With the readiness of such advanced technologies such as predictive analytics, drones, artificial intelligence, robotics, the list goes on… We are in the position of contributing to a crucial moment in history. Whilst the pace of change is superfast, there is a wealth of information out there. There are a growing number of women in tech that are applying their strengths and skills, reaching new heights in their careers. There is a drive by many organisations to drive up the number of women in this space and so if there are any doubts around your ability to build a career in this field, have a chat with myself or other women in this space and indulge in their insights and experiences.

I would say that if you are looking to get into the tech sector, you should remain relevant by reading widely, experiencing the technologies yourself and articulating a point of view. Having a point of view on how on how your technology skills can contribute to solving a problem or creating an opportunity for an organisation or individual will provide you with a voice. It will help you differentiate yourself in a high demand talent market.

What motivates you to get out of bed everyday?¬†I am a ‚Äėglass half-full‚Äô kind of a woman. I believe that living a fulfilling life sits in your control.¬†How you view your day, how you decide to learn from the challenges, celebrate the¬†successes, how you trust the process of life to work in your favour is key. Positive¬†affirmation and truly believing in what you devote your time to everyday are the special¬†ingredients for my daily motivation. In this way, I can have the awareness of when change is¬†necessary and remain true to my life purpose. This means working for an employer that¬†values you, engaging in work that you want to do well and giving the best of yourself.

This also means finding the balance between work and life. Family and loved ones are an important part of my life, so are my passions for travelling, jazz, interior design and being near the ocean. You are the master of your minutes, take time to self-reflect and choose to live your days being happy and motivated. I also remember not to take life too seriously and to remember to inject laughter and humour into my life. We are not perfect and we should not be too hard on ourselves.

Who do you want to be when you grow up?¬†Part of me never wants to grow up, it‚Äôs my child-like curiosity of the how the world could be¬†different or reimagined, which is something I really enjoy. Time does roll on though and I¬†think what is really important to me is to grow up being authentic ‚Äď being true to myself, my¬†values, my potential and my passions. I really enjoy being part of a solution and making a¬†difference in the world through my technology and business skills. More than anything, I¬†want to be one of the reasons that other girls and women in my circle of influence, choose a¬†career or hobby in technology. I think that we bring a different lens to the world as women¬†and it is the cumulative impact that will make the difference. Being able to inspire others to¬†be part of this exciting industry is one of the things I would love to experience as I grow up. I¬†have some great ideas about how to bring together girls and women for this purpose and¬†look forward to bringing those to fruition in the near future.

LinkedIn: https://za.linkedin.com/in/prathna-singh-2085a81
Twitter: @prathnasingh3

Prudence Spratt

Name: Prudence Spratt

Prudence Spratt

Designation: MD / Founder

Company:  Spratt Digital Consulting

What do you do every day? Running a small business I do a little bit of everything, I meet with clients, project manage work in progress, execute on tasks and do all of the admin that comes with running a business.

How did you get into the tech space? I think I was born into it.

I was born in the 80s and at the time my mom was a computer trainer when PCs first came out so there was always a PC in my house and I loved being on the computer.

When my mom was pregnant with me she met Bill Gates at a trade show in Sydney so in some way I think I was meant to get into tech ‚Äď that and the fact that I started coding websites when I was 14.

What was the best advice anyone ever gave you? To take accounting to Gr12. It helped with my further education and work after school immensely.

What advice would you given someone wanting to get into the tech sector? Follow your passion ‚Äď find the sector of tech that you like the most because when you love what you do the other parts of your job that you don‚Äôt like become much easier to deal with.

What motivates you to get out of bed everyday? My great team and the ability to work with them on exciting projects and with awesome people. That and if I don’t get up and feed my dogs they will probably eat my couch.

Who do you want to be when you grow up? A grown up version of myself…

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/SprattSA
Website:  www.spratt.co.za
LinkedIn: https://za.linkedin.com/in/prudencespratt
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SprattConsulting
Google Plus: https://plus.google.com/u/0/+SprattCoZa/posts