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The power of empowerment

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As businesswomen we are aware of the gender imbalances in the IT industry, and this awareness allows us to acknowledge and act on the opportunities that this ‘tipping of the scale’ presents.

IT has long been male-dominated, and this gender imbalance highlights a broad-based need to create more opportunities for women in the South African IT business market, and it also represents an opportunity – an opportunity for local organisations to prove their commitment to the growth and development of women in South Africa.
The Women in IT forum wants to encourage more women to join the forum and by doing so encourage more corporate funding. It is only through this funding that women in IT organisations can enhance and grow opportunities to channel gender empowerment efforts into a focused, well-supported structure, thus positioning the forum as an organisation which is committed to the growth and development of women in IT.
The Women in IT forum aims to facilitate one-on-one communication between women in the IT sphere, as well as provide direct access to a detailed member database.
Woman in IT provides a bursary as well as a mentorship programme that helps grow and develop women within the information technology sector, creating formal and informal networks between women IT students, tertiary institutions, South African IT professionals and corporates.
Woman in IT has had great success with their bursary programme so far.
Heather Third, chairman of Women in IT, comments: ”We awarded two bursaries in 2006 worth R20 000 each to two young ladies who studied in the IT field as well as completing their studies in the same year.
“Our forum is in touch with these young women, assisting them in finding a career opportunities within the industry. In 2007, two more bursaries worth R20 000 each were awarded to two young ladies who are currently in their final year of studies in the IT field. In 2008 our intention is to increase the number of bursaries to two in Johannesburg, one in Durban and one in Cape Town."
The work performed by the Women in IT forum rests on four pillars: Leadership; education; mentoring/coaching; and networking.
“In addition to these focus areas, Women in IT and of course its members are also extremely dedicated to their community projects and since the forum’s inception, the committee has organised a number of events with the main objective of creating business and personal linkages between our community members,” says Third.
The forum’s vision is to change the leadership of IT in our country through empowering women educationally as well motivating them to achieve positive results. This is achieved by maintaining a unique experience through support and commitment to the women and men who believe in the growth and development of women in the technology sector.
The forum was launched on 1 September 2005 with 100 members, and since then, the community has grown to more than 1 000 women in the IT industry.
Women in IT is dedicated to the ongoing process of empowering women in the IT sector, ensuring that through constructive mentoring they will be able hold their own in the IT industry without discrimination. All of this equates to creating equality between men and women in the IT boardroom.
WIIT is a forum providing a bursary and mentorship programme that aims to create insight, opportunity, growth and development for women within the information technology sector. Members  have access to an annual bursary and mentoring scheme, a quarterly newsletter, website and special events. Women in IT’s initiative is sponsored by IT companies including, Microsoft, Bytes Technology Group, HP, Axiz, and Verizon Business and Fujitsu Siemens, while its marketing is sponsored by Fizz and its PR iniatives by HMC Seswa.