Microsoft South Africa and Business Engage have partnered to launch the Women Take IT to the Stage Academy during April and May 2022, with applications to participate in the six-session skills-building programme open until 31 March 2022.
“The academy aims to bridge the representation gap of women in the technology sector by educating the female voice in the technology worlds and increasing the number of female speakers at tech conferences,” says Colleen Larsen, chief executive at Business Engage Association NPC, a non-profit comprised of 105 large and listed organisations working together to drive gender mainstreaming in the private sector.
It is critical to strengthen the number of female voices in the sector, and showcase the achievements of successful role models as well as the potential to build and advance successful careers as women in technology because women remain vastly under-represented in the technology space. Research by PwC shows that women currently hold 19% of tech-related jobs at the top 10 global tech companies and only 28% of leadership positions in these companies.
There is also a significantly smaller pool of female STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) talent in South Africa: less than one third of females – 28,5% – graduate to STEM-related careers. As a case in point, only 7% of all engineers in South Africa today are women.
“These statistics highlight that women still lag behind our male counterparts in an industry that is driving economic growth and the ability to participate and compete in the emerging digital economies of the Fourth Industrial Revolution,” says Lillian Barnard, CEO of Microsoft South Africa. “The Women Take IT to the Stage Academy is designed to bridge the gap by equipping women professionals in the sector with the critical skills and tools needed to advance their careers.”
Over the course of six virtual sessions with professional lecturers and TEDx speakers, participants will be trained on: personal branding, the art of storytelling, selecting a topic and becoming a skilled speech writer, reading the audience, handling fear and stage craft, presentation aids, speaking on camera, impromptu speaking, handling questions and post-presentation steps for maximum impact.
After each of the professional lectures, there will be smaller breakout sessions where experienced Microsoft employees will mentor and coach participants. The highlight at the end of the course will be a virtual conference where each participant will present their learnings and insights.
The programme – which will run during April and May 2022, with the final presentation in June – will be free of charge for participants, but the number of places is limited, so participants will need to have a minimum of three years’ experience in a Microsoft technology (Open Source developer technologies included) as well as commit to participating in all six sessions and presenting to the audience post the course.
“Training and mentorship is an important tool for people, especially women, to discover and develop their skills and the unique traits they are able to bring to the workplace, particularly in a typically male-dominated sphere. Together, Microsoft South Africa and Business Engage are working to empower women to realise their potential and take the next steps in their careers to ultimately build a strong and much-needed pipeline of female talent in the tech sector,” says Ilana Baragwanath, SMB channel sales manager at Microsoft South Africa.
Potential candidates who are interested in moving to the next level of their career in tech, can register via https://www.microsoft.com/southafrica/womentakeittothestage/?wt.mc_id=AID3046699_QSG_EML_587555. The deadline for registration is 31 March 2022.