Thursday, November 29, 2012

What African women in ICT need

This is a feedback from African women software developers and ICT entrepreneurs to whom the question was asked: what are your needs?  The 15 priority areas are out:

1. Mentorship -  women want to be linked up and mentored.  They need "those who have been there" to advise them regularly.  This emotional and professional support ranked highest in the responses.

2. Funding - Key to making some things happen.  Especially when you are just beginning and needing seed money to be able to set the ball rolling.
3. Market share, contracts, paying jobs - the market opportunities, contrary to popular opinion, are not in favor of women, generally.  This situation is worsened in the ICT domain.
4. Meeting with software legends - Younger Africans need to ask questions and learn from more experienced legends, even if it is an opportunity that only lasts a few days.

5. Establishing a professional Association - This suggestion is aimed at maintaining contact among the women so that ideas can be shared on continual basis.
6. Media coverage of women's efforts - Maybe because there is no flashlights on the efforts of women who are already in the field.  Giving media attention lifts a woman in her efforts
7. Segregated (women only) training and coding rooms - Important suggestion coming from a very experienced mentor.
8. Business skills and culture -  The world of business is a rigorous, male-dominated and sometimes, even violent one. Measuring up is not easy for women.  Support is needed here
9. Management skills - Ladies accept that knowing what to do is not the same as knowing how to do it well.  Technical knowledge needs to be coupled with managerial capacity.
10. Professional certification - In the ICT domain, certifications hold sway.  They open doors and women need them.
11. Up-to-date information on cutting edge technology and how to benefit from it - Yesterday's technology is not the same as todays.  So women need to update their knowledge to remain competitive
12. Hands-on practical workshops - Seminars and workshops are needed, but not only talk shops.  Technical sessions need to be included

13. Personality lessons: self esteem, confidence etc - Spot on. Not many women can assert themselves and the other gender seems to expoit this in the heartless business environment that exists in Africa
14. Communication and Public speaking capacity building - Getting the opportunity is one, knowing how to use it is another.  Communication and public speaking skills are seriously in need for African ICT women
15. Marketing and public relations capacity building - Getting services and products clearly and well communicated to clients and the larger public is lacking and African women need to master the art.

So much to do...

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