26 September 2012

Namibia: Microsoft Holds ICT Day for Girls

Photo: R. Zurba/USAID
In South Africa, 28 per cent of science academy members were women in 2010, while in most other countries women represented less than 12 per cent of science academy members (file photo).

Microsoft organisation Women of West, East and Central Africa (Wow) held an Information and Communications Technology (ICT) day for girls "DigiGirlz" on Thursday.

The one-day event gave high school girls from Grade 8-12 the opportunity to learn about careers in technology all the while connecting with Women Industry Leaders in ICT and within Microsoft itself. More young girls are encouraged to pursue degrees and careers in computing science and engineering, as the ultimate goal is narrowing the gender gap in the industry, and leveraging intellectual input. "This is the first Women of WECA (Wow) meeting in Namibia. You girls have the chance to meet employees and participate in hands-on computer and technology workshops," said Marietjie Tshoopara, Microsoft Wow Chapter Lead(Leader) when she was addressing the students.

"Women are missing the increasing number of technology-related job opportunities and run the risk that technological developments will not be relevant to their needs. A country cannot compete in an increasingly global ICT market if half of its talented citizens are not participating," added Tshoopara.

Ultimately, the exclusion of women from ICTs hampers, equal gender opportunities to influence ways technologies develop and affect their lives, while the loss of talented skilled women who can bring diversity of thought and perspective in the workforce, was outlined as a contributing factor in ill-formed policy. "Without women as part of the workforce, the ICT industry lacks many potential contributors to the formulation of government and research policy, and the development of technology that benefits communities as a whole and it is deprived of a broader set of perspectives in the design of critical information systems.

More than 100 girls attended the event from over 10 schools in Windhoek.

Said Tshoopara: "The Microsoft Employee Volunteer Programme is designed to mobilise the pool of talent, expertise and energy available from Microsoft employees, and putting it to work in the community, via company-sponsored events and volunteer activities. The DigiGirlz event gave us the chance to demystify ICT to young girls in our local community."

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