According to the 2017 Global Gender Gap Report, only 13% of SA graduates in the STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) for that year were female, even though we were ranked 19th out of 144 countries. At RSAWEB we are advocates for equality and regularly celebrate our female employees. The unfortunate reality is that it is still harder to get ahead as a woman in the tech industry, that’s why this Women’s Month we’re celebrating our own incredible women in tech and telling their stories. We hope it will inspire more young women in South Africa to pursue a career in the technology sector.
Mas’udah Sauls: Consumer/SME Sales and Operations Administrator
I entered the industry six years ago and since then I have experienced tremendous growth within RSAWEB.
I started out as a receptionist, moved into HR and now I am part of the operations team in our Consumer/SME Department. The amount of knowledge and experience I have gained has been incredible. Because the tech industry grows and changes so fast, I am always learning something new and different and that gets me so excited! I now know things I would never have thought to research on my own. My colleagues have always made me feel like I am able to do anything, I have been encouraged and given the same opportunities as the men are in our company. My journey with RSAWEB this far has been incredible and I cannot wait to see where we are headed. To be a part of this company and its amazing people is a blessing, as I know my situation is not the experience most women have in this industry.
My advice to any female considering a career in tech is go for it! You are capable of anything you set your mind and heart to. Believe in yourself and that you can make a difference in this world and then work towards that every day.
Kayla Sinden: Head of Creative
As a woman in tech I have had an incredible experience. I know that stats show a huge bias towards men in the industry as a whole but I personally have never felt like I had to work harder than any of my male colleagues for the same recognition. I grew very quickly in my career and didn’t feel like I had any disadvantage, though I know that I may be an exception to the norm. There is so much to learn and I’ve never been short of help. The everchanging nature of this industry excites me; there’s always new knowledge to be gained.
I’d like to let any women out there intimidated by the tech world know that you don’t need to be afraid of not having all the skills and knowledge you think you need, as long as you have the drive to learn and the passion to power through, you will succeed. It may be “a man’s world” but you owe nobody an explanation as to why you belong.
Bianca Swanepoel: Project and Installations Team Leader
Being a woman in such a male-dominated field is tough; you need to work a bit harder every day to prove yourself, leave your mark and make your voice heard. Most men will still view you as the administrator. This needs to change, we need more diversity of opinion, which in turn will drive innovation. Another challenge is managing a healthy work/life balance without being judged or compared to a stereotype. That being said, I can’t see myself doing anything else, every day is crazy, eventful and, ultimately, beautiful.
As a woman in today’s society, there are more possibilities than ever before! You can be more than a lawyer, teacher or nurse. If that’s your dream, then go for it! But don’t overlook a career in tech because you feel like you don’t belong. The technology is revolutionising our world, be apart of it. Regardless of what you want to do with your life, there will be an aspect of it that where tech skills can give you a head start. You could even build your own empire by improving other industries with your tech knowledge. Don’t disregard the possibilities that tech can create for you, you can be a lot more than a pretty face who knows a bit of excel, you could change the world with one idea if you acquire the know-how to make it reality.
Victoria Rust: FTTH Outbound Sales Consultant
My experience in the tech industry has been phenomenal! I am more knowledgeable and feel empowered by all the information I have learnt during my time at RSAWEB and I am still learning more each day.
Any woman looking to enter the industry should be bold, brave and unafraid to shine that bright beautiful smile! Show that you are capable of anything you put your mind to. Be willing to learn and make the mistakes you need to so you can continue to learn and grow.
Veronica Brits: Partner Manager
I have faced a few challenges navigating the skillset I preset and getting people to take me seriously. There are very few Female managers that lead in this space, and when they do, they tend to narrow the gap for other women. You tend to have to work a little harder to be taken seriously. And when you push a little, or innovate with passion, you may be called aggressive or emotional, but don’t let that hold you back. On the flip side, when you meet mature leaders working in this industry, that have a vision for greater perspectives and an appreciation for and understanding of diversity, they tend to show you a great deal of respect and honour when you display a little tenacity coupled with skill. People will trust you with their business, listen to your recommendations and support your initiatives to make a difference.
Being a woman isn’t any easier in other industries. To achieve your goals and make a name for yourself you need to work hard, be honest, strive for more, be a team player, be vulnerable, learn the technical detail, and do not be afraid to challenge traditional structures.
Zelda Park: Core Network Engineer
As a female engineer, I have really enjoyed the learning curve and the challenges that present themselves every day.
To thrive in this industry, regardless of your gender you just need to confident and know your stuff. At the end of the day, only your knowledge really matters.
Elaine van Staden: Enterprise Project Coordinator
I joined the industry at a very young age; fresh out of school, not knowing much about Telecommunications. Very early on in my career, I noticed that this is a very male-dominated industry and I’d need to better my knowledge and gain some confidence to make my voice heard. My experience has been an exciting one despite the steep learning curve. I was fortunate to have a great female mentor who taught me a lot about what I know today.
As women in tech we need to help each other out. Any young female looking to enter the industry should find a good female mentor in the tech space that’s able to teach them the in’s and out’s. Keep motivated and grab every opportunity to learn more and better yourself in the tech space. It is also good to develop relationships with women that are well established to build your network.
Jacquie Hough: Enterprise Account Manager
My tech industry experience began in London. I found it a lot easier to be accepted there in that environment as a woman than I have here in South Africa. With the industry being quite different here, I discovered that the easiest way to break through is to build trust relationships with my customers and peers. After that the barriers were lowered and people are more receptive to a woman sitting in front of them having technical discussions.
To any young female entering the industry, always remember that you’re a woman first, and a tech industry-go-getter second. As such, your strength as a woman in the tech industry lies in staying relatable. Be patient, humble and grab every opportunity you can. Learn from others, be willing to be taught, and the magic of the tech world surrounding us will be revealed to you.