WomeninTechZA and Silicon Cape successfully hosted WomeninTechZA’s first ever networking event in CT on Monday night. Attended by 40 local women (and one man), the event gave CT tech ladies a chance to meet and network and discuss the issues and challenges they face working in the sector.

WomeninTechZA aims to get women talking about the challenges they face as a vast minority in the sector. Only 23% of tech jobs in SA are held by women – if we are going to change that we need to start talking and doing thing that can make a real difference.

Speaking on the night, Silicon Cape chair Alex Fraser, who recently founded her own company, Stone Tree, highlighted the dire shortage of female VCs in the tech sector, and the huge impact on productivity and profit that women bring to teams and organisations.

After presenting an overview of the sad state of diversity into the tech sector and introduction to the WomeninTechZA initiative from co-founder Samantha Perry, the ladies split into four groups to discuss their issues and challenges and then report back to the group.

Participants highlighted the fact that women are often their own worst enemies in organisations, and rather need to learn to support each other and not see each other as competition.

Women are also not as good as putting themselves out there in the market at events, taking speaking slots and generally being visible – something we all need to work on, participants agreed.

Also under the spotlight was the different stories every women in the sector has – there are few common threads if you look at how each of us got to where we are, and we need to start sharing those stories and making them more accessible.

Ongoing challenges with sexism and sexual harassment both got a mention, contrasted with the recognition that if we are to address sector diversity challenges we need to stop thinking about ‘men vs women’ and start thinking as ‘people in IT’.

The lack of female mentors and role models was mentioned more than once and, after a follow up discussion with a smaller group of tech ladies the following day, WomeninTechZA is launching a platform to connect mentors and mentees on the womenintech.co.za website. Mentors can ask to be listed on the site (including focus areas and areas of expertise) and anyone needing their expertise can request a contact. Mentoring will be charged for per hour in accordance with the seniority of the mentor, and what the mentee can afford and all proceeds will go towards funding the running of WomeninTechZA. Watch this space for info and contact samantha.perry@gmail.com if you want to take part please!

Thanks again to our wonderful sponsors – The Office, which provided us with their gorgeous venue, and PayFast, which sponsored the very yummy snacks.

 The Office is Cape Town’s premium business club. A sophisticated work and meeting space, The Office was designed by entrepreneurs for entrepreneurs – a considered space where business can get done. 

PayFast is a payments processing service for South Africans and South African websites. It enables easy, secure and instant transfer of money between online buyers and sellers.

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The Office