Shattering stereotypes, FoICT empowers “Girls in Tech” for industry

by Kgothatso Monono

19 October 2023

The historically male dominated technological world is experiencing a powerful wave of change that is sweeping the sector. Girls in technology are breaking down preconceived notions, tearing down boundaries and inspiring a new generation of inventors. As the world celebrated the “International Day of the Girl Child” on 10 October 2023, students from the Faculty of Information and Communication Technology (FoICT), Alumni and Industry Partners including ThaboEra, Skynamo, Mbula Research and Development as well as TUT’s Advancement Office, spent the day with “Girls in Tech” students at the Tshwane University of Technology’s (TUT) Soshanguve South Campus. 

From left: Dr Esther Lusenga Sibanda, Morabi and Keabetswe Ramantshane (EXCO members of the ICT Alumni Chapter).

The FoICT’s “Girls in Tech” project aims at empowering young women and give them the authority to embrace their talents in this challenging, often male-dominated environment. 

Lecturers and mentors play a vital role in sparking interest and curiosity. Initiatives like coding camps, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) programs and robotics clubs, offer girls an opportunity to engage with technology in a fun and educational way. By creating a welcoming environment and promoting equal access, the spark for interest in technology can be triggered in girls from diverse backgrounds. 

“If a woman behaves in a feminine way, she may be liked, but she may not be respected or seen as a leader. However, if she operates in a masculine way, she may be judged and disliked. The title of Catalyst’s research paper published in 2007, Double Bind Dilemma For Women in Leadership: Damned If You Do, Doomed If You Don't, says it all. Since then, the double bind concept has been recognized as a constant challenge for women who want to advance their careers. It is therefore important that we all develop our own personal brand and style, suitable to the context in which we live and work. Being authentic and true to ourselves remains key. May today’s event uplift and ignite girls’ power,” said Dr Agnieta Pretorius, FoICT Assistant Dean, in her welcoming speech. 

Technology diversity is not simply a trendy concept, it is essential. Diverse teams foster innovation and creativity by bringing a range of experiences, viewpoints and ideas to the table. To ensure that females have equal opportunities to succeed, businesses and institutions should put a priority on diversity and inclusivity in their tech projects. 

Dr Agnieta Pretorious (ICT Assistant Dean).

Esther Sibande, TUT Alumni Chapter Committee member, touched on concerns in relation to providing insights into career pathways and academic choices, helping students make informed decisions about their tech careers. She emphasized students that “preparing for a tech career requires understanding your interests, strengths as well as goals in ICT. Research relevant programmes and communicate with your lecturers about financial assistance opportunities such as bursaries and scholarships in ICT.” 

Highlighting successful women in tech positions, whether they are entrepreneurs, engineers, or scientists, inspires girls to envision their own futures in technology. Mentorship programmes also provide guidance and support as they navigate the industry, helping them overcome challenges and pursue their goals with confidence.  

“An inclusive environment fosters creativity, collaboration, and a sense of belonging. It empowers individuals to reach their full potential, contributing their unique talents to the field. The tech industry plays a prominent role in shaping our future. To create innovative solutions that address real-world problems, we need diverse perspectives and experiences. Inclusivity in tech ensures that the solutions we build are more comprehensive and effective,” concluded Refilwe Mogase, HoD of the Faculty’s Department of Informatics.  

The occasion of such magnitude was made possible by our industry partners: by stretching out their hand to assist in producing future-ready graduates. 

“We commend ICT Alumni for supporting Vice Chancellor and Principal, Prof Tinyiko Maluleke’s, call to move TUT from good to great. TUT’s Alumni are a key in the progress of the University, since they can bring a wealth of corporate knowledge and experience to benefit our students,” said Shalate Davhana, Manager: Alumni Relations and Fundraising at the Advancement and Partnerships Office.

Faculty of ICT “Girls in Tech”.
Nombuso Nkosi (speaker).

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