More than 445 teachers across 14 African countries were surveyed by a new report to try and unpack the complexities that face African girls in the technology landscape. Titled "Tomorrow’s Cyber Heroines" the study highlights the importance of changing the cybersecurity workforce gender statistics.
The study was undertaken by CyberHeroines, KnowBe4 Africa and Infosphere Limited.
“We want African women to participate in the digital age – we cannot leave them behind. We must empower girls to go into technology and this starts at a young age. We need to make a conscious decision to change the way we treat young girls. The dialogue needs to focus on making technology interesting for girls, not just something that they should ‘leave to their brother,” said Aprielle Oichoe, Managing Director of InfoSphere.
The key factors inhibiting women’s entry to the worlds of technology and cybersecurity include negative stereotypes, lack of role models or mentors, low self-confidence, and competing in a male-dominated industry. Women are generally discouraged from careers in STEM and steered towards traditionally female roles instead.
Women in technology
Across Africa women have less access to internet-based technologies than men, they have fewer opportunities, they are even more limited in their ability to move out from under poverty. As the world continues to move into automation, women will be the most affected as their roles are replaced by machines. Change has to start now, it has to start at home, and it has to be carried through into education.
Another recent study by the Association for Progressive Communications underscored the reality of the gender digital divide.
The study found that a lack of education, limited guidance, minimal role models and societal preconceptions are having a serious, long-term impact on women’s careers and futures. With cybersecurity and technology struggling to find skilled people, the market is wide open for those with the talent and the training to build sustainable and successful futures.
Careers in technology and cybersecurity
In addition to thriving careers, training and education in technology and cybersecurity are essential for the well-being of young girls and women in Africa.
“We have to give girls more opportunities, inspire them to get involved in technology and the cybersecurity field, and to remove the preconceived and socialized ideas that prevent women from pursuing careers in technology. The world is digitizing rapidly and women are at risk of being left behind. We have to change the dialogue around technology and make it more inclusive for women and girls," said Anna Collard, SVP of Content Strategy and Evangelist KnowBe4 Africa.
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