In closing off the Women’s Month projects, the Durban University of Technology in collaboration with Varsity Genie hosted a virtual discussion on the Women in Technology: Support for Students on Microsoft Teams on Friday afternoon, 28 August 2020.
Female students who are eager to leave a mark in the technology industry had an opportunity to present at this webinar. The presenters consisted of the recently appointed Ambassador for Google’s Women Techmakers (WTM) Programme Nombuso Msweli, Londiwe Mncwango, Samukelisiwe Zulu, Lablonde Kalalizi and S’thabile Hlangu.
In her opening remarks Professor Sibusiso Moyo, DUT’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor (DVC) for Research Innovation and Engagement (RIE) said it was important to have such a platform where they can share what is happening in the technology sector. “For me in this sector when we talk about women in technology, I find that there are many issues that we are facing as women. We should be looking at solutions which have a bigger reach. It does not matter how small your solution is, what’s important is how many people it reaches. If you find a solution which can have an impact on the lives of people, definitely you will reach a bigger market. While studying you should be thinking about what is it that I can do to find a solution with a big reach,” said Prof Moyo.
She further stated that she is excited to know about the different technologies that DUT can get involved in. Her concern was that more women are found in smaller companies as opposed to bigger organisations. “Most of the women are not playing very significant roles, even highly educated women, in terms of the economy. Bigger numbers of women are at the lower levels of the economy and not at the top. Even though the population of women is more than half, that is a big sector which is not very active in terms of generating income around the economy. This tells you that there are a lot of things we can do as technologists in terms of finding solutions which can reach a high number of people,” Prof Moyo said.
WTM Ambassador and Varsity Genie’s Programme Manager, Msweli said her role is to ensure that females are motivated to join and excel in the technology field. She said females interested to join this field should ask themselves if they are motivated enough, do they know why they are there and what they are hoping to achieve.
“Being part of this initiative is really amazing. This month I hosted an event called Reframe Your Mind for a Career in Technology where I invited other females in the tech industry to have a discussion on what is causing the gap in this field. We looked at why most females are not into programming that much, those are some of the things we spoke about. I noticed that there was a lack of female attendance even though the event was aimed at them. This made me ask myself why females are not participating in tech based events,” said Msweli.
In terms of assisting students in technology, Msweli advised DUT to make resources widely available for all students. The Director of Advancement and Alumni Relations at DUT, Zwakele Ngubane spoke about some of DUT’s initiatives to support female students interested in technology. He said an initiative they are about to launch is a mentorship programme looking at having DUT Alumni to mentor current students.
“We have a number of people who studied at DUT who now have a lot of experience and want to engage with DUT but don’t know how to give back rather than donating money. One of the ways in which they can now give back is a mentorship programme. DUT students will be able to team up with a particular alumnus in the similar field to mentor them and help close the gap from studying to active economic participation,” said Ngubane.
Pictured: Some of the participants of the Women in Technology webinar.