Don’t just acknowledge…celebrate women in IT

05 March 2021 | Opinion

Windhoek • Ilana Erasmus

March 8th is International Women’s Day – the one day in a year that women, their accomplishments and contributions to life, society and every aspect of our modern world is celebrated.
Frankly, it seems like it should be minimally the whole of March!
I feel quite strongly about this, as do most women, when we look at all the work we do, our accomplishments and achievements. As a woman in ICT, the lack of recognition or even getting people to grasp the notion that a woman working in ICT may not be the coffee lady or just in “marketing” is sometimes maddening.
Ever since the advent of computing, women have played an important part in the development and evolution of computing.

Meet Ada Lovelace
At the cradle of modern computing we find Ada Lovelace; the daughter of famed poet Lord Byron, whom was a gifted mathematician with a brilliant mind. She was introduced to many computer concepts by Charles Babbage and used his research and findings to further her own ideas and concepts when it came to computing.
She has been referred to as “prophet of the computer age” and is considered the first computer programmer. She did her work and research in the mid-1800’s, so it’s not surprising that she didn’t get the credit back then.
However, in 2021, women should not need to fight for recognition or credit for the work they do in ICT.
This is one of the reasons why Green Enterprise Solutions has always championed diversity and has quite a few women in technical positions, including myself.
It is also why recently when we decided to open our doors to trainees, we very much focused on a balance between men and women. Luckily young women are becoming more and more interested in technology and STEM in general. This gives us the opportunity to give these “potential” engineers, system integrators and software developers a stimulating environment in which to work and develop themselves. This why of the 14 trainees that made the cut to work at Green, seven are female – something that fills me with pride.

Championing
International Women’s Day is a great way to celebrate women, but we should be in a position where everyone is applauded and celebrated equally. However, we know this is not the case. It is also why it is necessary to champion young women in ICT. As at present they are still treated too much like unicorns in the fields of technology, engineering and the sciences.
Job and career opportunities are not plentiful in Namibia; however there is always growth in technology and computing. As the world advances so does the need for well-educated and passionate people to fill positions that can contribute to making Namibia the knowledge-based society it is striving to become.
Women need to be a part of this development and that is why we need to celebrate, champion and stimulate the women that are already in the field of ICT or thinking about entering this space. The next Ada Lovelace could be Namibian, if just given the chance and celebrated.