By Linda Misauer, VP of Software Security and Chair of the Women’s Impact Network at Redstor
Even though the South African ICT sector still has a gender gap to contend with when it comes to female representation, the situation has improved in recent years. This is according to Linda Misauer, VP of Software Security and Chair of the Women’s Impact Network at Redstor, a born-in-the-cloud software vendor and provider of the smarter cloud backup platform of choice for managed service providers (MSPs).
In the past, the focus was on women needing to have the right skills. While progress has been made to get women into STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics), the spotlight is now on all genders needing to enhance their softer skills, support systems, and find guidance on how to progress in their careers. The key to addressing this is to start doing the right skills development from a young age.
However, it is still important to give girls the exposure they need to the world of IT. For example, having awareness drives to promote technology interest in girls could take the form of fun and interactive hackathons working in teams and being comfortable sharing ideas in a group. It is about giving girls the opportunity to make informed decisions for themselves whether IT is something they are keen to pursue.
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I believe that programmes must be in place to address the full lifecycle such as skills development, mentoring, training, and how to deal with workplace challenges, stress, pressure, resilience, and adaptability. As part of this, there needs to be a focus on soft skills.
The workplace environment is significantly different from taking a course or attending university. These programmes may open the door, but knowing what is expected of a person at a company can help bridge the gap that currently exists making it less overwhelming and helping reduce imposter syndrome.
A support system is key to progress. I found having a person in my life that is the voice of reason can be a massive help. We all face daily challenges, big or small. There should be at least one person who can provide you with advice from an outsider’s perspective.
For me, formal mentoring is not something I enjoy as much as specific and relevant advice provided in the moment from someone you trust. It is about taking lessons from people throughout your career journey and going to them for both direct and indirect advice.
Throughout this process, it is vital to remember that women and men add value in different ways. Diverse team members complement each other and result in a better business environment.
Furthermore, it is important to learn to ask for what you want, to become active participants in meetings and to be seen. While people always need to remain humble, they should build their brand to point out the value they bring to the workforce. The focus must be on measurable outcomes and not office politics.
The gender gap no longer appears insurmountable. But it has become time to look at things from a slightly different angle than technical skills development alone.