"Tech needs girls" (itu.int)
HumanIPO contacted a number of prominent ICT sector companies, offering the opportunity for successful female members of the teams to make statements and provide advice for women hoping to gain a foothold in the ICT sector.
The response was a resounding rejection and refusal to reach out to young women.
South African operators Vodacom, Cell C and Telkom were either too busy or failed to respond at all, while Ory Okolloh, Google’s policy manager for Africa, simply responded: “Sorry no can do”, failing to respond to a repeated request.
A spokeswoman from Google’s Sub-Saharan Africa operations simply commented: “Google is doing increasing amounts to get women involved in tech in Africa and emerging markets.”
But perhaps the most worrisome response came from Facebook, whose spokesperson revealed there are no women among the company’s “approved spokespeople”, as such no comment could be given.
After refusing to reveal how many women were employed by the company, they later changed tack and said though there were approved female spokespeople, none were available for comment due to the need to prioritise.
That such a prominent firm would consider encouraging girls to get involved in ICT not a priority is concerning in the extreme.
The truth is that women are underrepresented in ICT sectors across the world, and much more needs to be done to empower and encourage women to take an equal role in ICT.
The day - organised by the International Telecommunication Union - is intended as an event for girls and young women to have access to big companies and government agencies to experience life and work in the ICT sector.
Yet major industry players will not even reach out to female members of society via the media.
It is shameful that major industry players feel today could be neglected, that the female segment of society at large did not deserve encouraging words from female role models through accessible online channels such as HumanIPO, and that globally popular organisations such as Facebook feel encouraging women to pursue a career in ICT is not a priority.
And one has to wonder at the successful women in ICT who chose to neglect the next generation of women, who chose not to reach out, not to give support, and who chose not to shout out that women do have a place in this vibrant and exciting sector.