There’s no shortage of programmes that are aimed at addressing the shortage of women in the technology industry. Despite the skills development interventions the number of successful women technology startup founders is very limited. Clearly, whatever is done to address this challenge is not significantly changing the status quo.
It is easy to once in a while when it’s the flavour of the month to create an impression that there’s progress. The reality is that the tech industry has failed to create a conducive environment for all to contribute in this important industry. As a result of this scenario, the industry is loosing from the lack of diversity of views and approaches that would have added value to innovation. Lack of diversity in tech is probably one of the reasons why there’s slow pace of innovation. The nature of technology that we use has been blamed for many challenges in society which could have been avoided if the voice of women were part of decision making. Think the impact of devices on children.
History tells us that women can add significant value in technology and innovation. We know this because the first computer programmer, Augusta Ada Lovelace, was a woman. Her work was both profound and inspirational. It gave glimpse to a future in which machines would become partners of the human imagination. She perceived how the processing power of a calculating machine could be used on any form of information.
We also know that early space mission was enabled by women who calculated the precise trajectories that would let Apollo 11 land on the moon in 1969 and, after Neil Armstrong’s history-making moonwalk, let it return to Earth.
Historical records show us that when women contributes in technology their impact is significant. Imagine if technology startups were also led by women.
There’s no question about the value that women can bring on the table. Even with so much that women can offer we still don’t see them leading successful technology startups.
There’s a need therefore to review current efforts that are aimed at changing the status quo in tech industry. If we are to see more successful women tech startup founders something more impactful will have to be done.
Clearly there are hurdles and there’s no better time to do something about whatever is standing in the way of getting more innovative minds in tech.
Education will play a significant role in channeling more young women to consider technology as a field of choice. Role modelling by other successful women in tech will serve as an inspiration. In addition to these interventions, funding of women tech startups will have a far more important role in changing the status quo.
Technologies of the past industrial revolutions were built mainly by a few homogeneous group. It has brought us progress as well as significant problems. The success of the next industrial revolution will depend on the diversity of views and approaches.
In the future, when we reflect on the role of women in society there should be more successful women technology startup founders. The technology startup ecosystem will have to conduct a serious self introspection if we are to change the current status quo.
Credit: Wesley Diphoko
Wesley Diphoko is the Editor-In-Chief of the Fast Company (SA) magazine.