INTERVIEW: Advocating for the Advancement of Women in Tech


 

Women make up just one-fifth of the worlds top 10 global tech companies – which is why CMO at SYSPRO, Sandra Fraga acts as a passionate advocate for women empowerment and female Leadership in the IT Industry.

On the back of International Women’s Day, she believes that there is a great opportunity to inspire the younger generation of women into bridging the current gap in tech workspace.

ITNA’s Jenna Delport chatted to Fraga about women expanding further technology-focused industries. Here’s what transpired:

According to a PWC article on women in technology, women currently hold 19% of tech-related jobs at the top 10 global tech companies – what kind of opportunity does this present to women interested in this kind of career?

At present, the percentage of women that hold tech-related jobs presents an opportunity for women to make their mark within the industry. This is however only possible if women hold the necessary skills and are provided with the required support to be successful.

What is encouraging is that research is showing that the numbers of women in tech is set to improve in 2020. Research by Trainline suggests that around 60% of people think there will be an uptick in the number of women in tech over the next year. It is up to all organizations to make that a reality.

In reference to the same article, women make up 28% of the top leadership positions, with men the remaining representing 72%  – why do you think this is the case?

Capital One’s Women in Technology 2019 report indicated that the majority of women who stay in tech (73%) said they considered leaving their tech careers at some point because of limited opportunity for advancement (27%), unfair compensation compared with male peers (25%), and little support of management (22%).

More than half of women in tech leave the industry by the mid-point of their career, which is more than double the rate of men, which means that there are fewer women being groomed into top leadership positions.

What kind of challenges are barriers to entry do women face, especially in South Africa?

Skills, education and training is a major barrier to entry for not only women but men as well in the tech industry. The shortage of skills in the country hinders the growth and development of the economy. Tech skills are at the top of the list of skills that are most difficult to find in the country.

Has there been a moment in your career where you’ve felt empowered, proud and capable as a result of your femininity? Can you describe it and how it impacted your passion toward a career in tech.

Throughout my career, I have held the fundamental belief that gender should not limit professional growth, but rather one’s development should be based on the right capabilities, experience and skillset.

The theme for this year’s International Women’s Day on the 8th of March is “Each for Equal”. This theme really speaks to me as it promotes the concept that an “equal world is an enabled world”.

I have succeeded in my career because of what I bring to the table, my education, my tenacity and most of all my drive to want to succeed. My advice is that women should not see themselves as disempowered because they are female. 

What advice would you give to women in the world of tech?

As a champion for the advancement of women in the workplace, I have a few inspiring women that I mentor. Within these sessions, I am committed to sharing my experiences and knowledge to guide them in their career development. I am also passionate about developing young talent and guiding them through their career by offering practical advice on how to be successful in the work environment.

I believe that women have an integral role to play in the workplace and my commitment to the upliftment of these women is aimed at helping them reach success in their careers which I hope will inspire them to do the same for other women. Some advice that I would give women in the world of tech includes:

  1. Be authentic and don’t compromise 
  2. Don’t underestimate the value of networking
  3. Embrace the unique journey of a woman in the workplace
  4. Find a mentor that can help guide your career and provide you with honest and tangible feedback
  5. Know the power of choice and be clear on what you do want to do and what you don’t
Edited by Jenna Delport
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