Women in Tech: Equity and not just equality

Audrey Chanakira
International Women’s Day is commemorated on 8 March. However, we cannot just focus on that singular day. Yet we should be celebrating women and their contributions all month, all year in fact.
As a woman, I have to be honest, I don’t think I need to be celebrated as that makes me think of having a parade thrown for me or balloons and cake. Certainly not every day. To me it is much more about acknowledging women, their contribution, and their important role in society; not just as homemakers, but in all facets of life. This includes the technology sector, the sector within which I not only work but thrive in.
For many years women have been fighting for equality and the needle on that is shifting but it is still not where it needs to be. We do not just need to be treated as equals, we need to have our differences acknowledged, embraced, and used to the advantage of the company, organisation, or environment we find ourselves in as women.
This is a very succinct explanation of the difference between equality and equity. Equality means each individual or group of people is given the same resources or opportunities, which is how life should be at its very basis. Whilst Equity recognizes that each person has different circumstances, and allocates the exact resources and opportunities needed to reach an equal outcome. There are different ways to reach the same outcome.
In ICT, we see more and more women entering the field, but the fact that I am writing about it shows that it is still a rarity. We are not quite unicorns, but it’s close. We want, need, and deserve our seats at the table. Not because of some equality drive, or positive discrimination but because what we bring to the table is essential to an organisation and the development of society as a whole. We do after all represent half of the world’s population.
Women underestimated
When it comes to ICT, women are still underestimated when it comes to our knowledge, expertise and skill we bring to the table in all fields of the IT Industry. Whether it be in selling solutions, building solutions, programming or implementing solutions. Men want to solve the problem and women want to understand the problem before solving the problem which brings an analytical problem-solving element to the workplace. Creating a longer-lasting and more robust solution, rather than just a stop-gap solution or a ‘band-aid’ as a solution.
If we create an environment where ‘equity’ and not ‘equality’ becomes the norm for hiring people, especially in tech, we can reimagine how ICT is approached and how solutions, software and tech are created. Industry challenges, Digitisation, Big Data, IoT and Analytics can benefit immensely from a different approach to challenges and as women, we certainly have a different way of working. That being said, we are still working towards the same goal and that is where once again the call for ‘equity’ comes in.
We need to encourage and make sure that girls and women want to enter this space. As mentioned, we are not quite unicorns, but not far off. We need to stimulate them at a grassroots level. Be present in meetings, be present at events and have people used to seeing us at all levels, from the work floor all the way to the C-level suite. Which is what I have my eye on. Only then can we talk about equity and truly celebrate International Women’s Day.
Happy International Women’s Day!
*Audrey Chanakira is a Mobile App Developer at Green Enterprise Solutions.
**Opinion pieces and letters by the public do not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial team. The editors reserve the right to abridge original texts. All newspapers of Namibia Media Holdings adhere to the Code of Ethics for Namibian Media, a code established jointly with the Media Ombudsman.