Tech for gender equality: time to break glass ceiling

There is need to build a level playing field.

In Summary

•But the tide is turning.

•With the emergence of cutting-edge technologies like AI and machine learning, we have an unprecedented opportunity to promote gender equality and inclusivity in tech.

The tech industry has long been a boy's club, with women facing persistent discrimination and barriers to entry.

But the tide is turning.

With the emergence of cutting-edge technologies like AI and machine learning, we have an unprecedented opportunity to promote gender equality and inclusivity in tech.

Women have been excluded from the tech industry for too long, missing out on opportunities to innovate and lead.

But now, we can finally make strides toward a more equitable future, as underscored in this year's UN Women’s theme for International Women's Day, which focuses on "DigitALL: Innovation and technology for gender equality,"

As a seasoned woman in tech, promoting gender equality means opening doors for women to participate fully and breaking down the gender barriers that have kept them from reaching their potential.

Organisations like Femtechies at ILab Africa, Women in Tech Africa, and Akirachix are already making strides toward this goal by mentoring and educating young girls and women.

But the work is far from over. To create a level playing field, we must ensure that both genders are paid equally based on their abilities.

And while somebody can use AI to eliminate bias in hiring and identify pay gaps, we need more women involved in creating and developing these technologies to make a difference truly.

Recent data from the UN Women shows that a global analysis of 133 AI systems across industries found that only 44.2 percent demonstrate gender bias.

This leaves the lion's share of AI systems silent against gender bias hence calling for more women to be involved in creating technology systems and product innovations or development.

Of course, women in tech still face plenty of challenges, from stereotypes and sidelining to work-life balance and mentorship.

But by breaking down gender bias and creating an environment where equality is the norm, we can empower women to succeed in their chosen careers.

By leveraging innovative platforms such as podcasts or being creative, we can create awareness about changing world patterns, encourage adopting new habits and drop social and cultural norms that promote inequality.

Besides, men too have a crucial role to play in this as well. As Gender Equality Ambassadors, they can help reduce stereotypes and mentor women to rise the industry ladder.

By encouraging more men to get involved, we can create a culture of inclusivity and support those benefits everyone.

Also, this will require changing the narrative and creating an environment where gender equality is the norm.

But we must continue.

To encourage girls and women to pursue tech careers, we need to start by empowering them early.

Boot camps, mentorship programs, and networking events can help create a sense of community and show young women what they can achieve, provided women heavily drive them for women.

Besides, women must showcase more of what they do, highlighting their achievements and talents to the right audiences.

The future of women in tech is bright, but it will require a collective effort to overcome the challenges that still stand in our way.

Innovation and technology are critical factors in promoting gender equality. It's time to create a level playing field where men and women are treated equally, paid equally, and have equal opportunities.

By leveraging innovative technologies and creating initiatives that promote gender equality, we can bridge the gap and create a more inclusive and diverse tech industry.

My challenge to all girls, women and key stakeholders is; let's empower ourselves and those around us to make a difference and create a better future for all.

Linda Oyanda is the IT service delivery coordinator, Old Mutual Group.

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