Women in tech need equity, not just equality
Harness women's unique powers
What women bring to the table is essential to an organisation and to the development of society as a whole.International Women’s Day is celebrated annually on 8 March. However, we cannot only focus on that singular day; all month, in fact, all year, we should be celebrating women and their contributions.
As a woman, I do not think I need to be celebrated with a parade or a cake. It is much more about acknowledging women, their contributions, and their important role in society, not just as homemakers but in all facets of life. This includes the technology sector, the sector in which I not only work but thrive.
For many years, women have been fighting for equality, and the needle on that is shifting but is still not where it needs to be. We do not only need to be treated as equals; we also need to have our differences acknowledged, embraced, and used to the advantage of the company, organisation, or environment we find ourselves in as women.
This is a very succinct explanation of the difference between equality and equity: equality means each individual or group of people is given the same resources or opportunities, which is how life should be at its very basis. Equity recognises that each person has different circumstances, and allocates the exact resources and opportunities needed to reach an equal outcome; there are different ways to reach the same outcome.
In information and communication technology (ICT), we see more and more women entering the field, but the fact that I am still writing about it shows that it is still a rarity. We are not quite unicorns, but it is close.
We want, need and deserve our seat at the table.
Not because of some equality drive or positive discrimination, but because what we bring to the table is essential to an organisation and to the development of society as a whole. We do, after all, represent half of the world’s population.
When it comes to ICT, women are still underestimated when it comes to the knowledge, expertise, and skill we bring to the table in all fields of the IT industry. This may be in selling solutions, building and implementing solutions and programming.
Men want to solve the problem, and women want to understand the problem before solving it, which brings an analytical problem-solving element to the work place and creates a long-lasting and more robust solution rather than just a stop-gap solution or a ‘band-aid’ as a solution.
Reimagining the field
If we create an environment where ‘equity’ and not ‘equality’ becomes the norm for hiring people, especially in tech, we can reimagine how ICT is approached and how solutions, software and tech are created.
Industry challenges like digitisation, big data, the internet of things, and analytics can benefit immensely from a different approach by women. We certainly have a different way of working. We are still working towards the same goal, and that is where once again the call for ‘equity’ comes in.
We need to encourage and make sure that girls and women want to enter this space. As mentioned, we are not unicorns, but we are not far off. We need to stimulate them at the grass-roots level. Be present in meetings and events, and have people used to seeing us at all levels, from the work floor all the way to the C-level suite, which is what I have my eyes on. Only then can we talk about equity and truly celebrate International Women’s Day.
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