INTERVIEW: 5 Tips for Women in Tech

Over the next decade, a new wave of digital technologies is set to reshape how we live and work. It is imperative that women play an equal role in shaping their impact. Not only should the new opportunities these technologies create be open to all, but it is also critical to tap into diverse experiences and perspectives to unlock their full value.

To help women take a leading role in driving the adoption of technology, ITNA‘s Jenna Delport spoke to Sandra Fraga, Chief Sales and Marketing Officer at SYSPRO. 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?

There is no doubt that the world we live in is becoming increasingly digital and new digitized business models have become central in most organisational strategies. 

In fact, the latest IDC Futurescape echoes this, where despite the global pandemic, direct digital transformation (DX) investment is expected to approach $6.8 trillion by 2023.

While technologies are developing at an exponential rate, there is also the risk of a talent gap, which needs to be filled with the right skills and training. ICT skills are in fact one of the top priorities in the recent South African Department of Home Affairs’ new draft critical skills list.

This means that there is a real opportunity for women to hold more positions in the world of technology – as long as the right skills are in place. To get this right, women should have access to mentors, coaches and corporate-led opportunities to pursue a career in tech.

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? And why is it important to shatter stereotypes in tech?

Throughout my career, I have held the belief that gender does not play a role in professional growth, but rather the right capabilities, experience and skillset. Despite this, women still have to contend with gender stereotypes. The problem also runs much deeper than stigmas and stereotypes, the reality is that not enough women are being exposed to STEM subjects at a foundational level.

It is therefore up to women in the industry to support each other, to be role models, mentors and provide opportunities and exposure to STEM subjects in order to mould the future leaders, critical thinkers and tech innovators.

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. 

To overcome this barrier and build a talent pipeline, at SYSPRO we offer internships where at least 50% of the interns are female. During the internship, we focus on creating well rounded, knowledgeable individuals who are ready to join the workforce with the required knowledge of SYSPRO ERP. 

We also encourage our interns to develop relationships with our partners during the program as this will increase their knowledge and skills, but this also enhances their chances of being absorbed into the industry once the program is complete. 

What are some of the benefits of greater gender equality in the tech sphere?

Did you know that the first line of code was written by Ada Lovelace – a woman! 

Women have the ability to be critical thinkers and innovators, with the capacity to demonstrate empathy and deliver pragmatic solutions. Personally, I have not been at a disadvantage for being a woman. I have succeeded in my career because of what I bring to the table, my education, my tenacity and my drive to want to succeed. My advice is that women should not see themselves as disempowered because they are female. People around you will respect you for that – regardless of gender.

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 for a career in tech.

As a business leader in SYSPRO and as the only female member around the boardroom table, I know that I add value by having the ability to have a different and unique perspective than my colleagues.

As a result of my femininity, I offer creative solutions that possibly wouldn’t have been considered. I have a passion for new and disruptive technologies and how they impact people, communities and society. This position is empowering because when you are a woman in tech, you are at the forefront of change. 

What advice would you give to women who are looking to take on the world of tech?

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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