Women in South Africa (SA) are uniquely positioned to become the solution to the country’s greatest challenges by harnessing the power of technology, according to tech training provider ALX.

Against the backdrop of this year’s United Nations International Women’s Day (IWD) theme, ‘Invest in Women: Accelerate Progress’, ALX calls on South Africa’s rapidly growing technology sector to take shared ownership in addressing the digital gender gap, or risk leaving a generation of talented, young women behind in the fourth industrial revolution.

According to a recent report, women hold only 23% of tech employment positions in South Africa, accounting for just under a quarter of ICT roles.

However, as the heads of most households, and the backbone of the communities they live in, women are well placed to innovate and lead society towards better services and economic opportunities. Given the right combination of digital skills, support and training, women can realise their potential and become change makers both at a grassroots level and in the boardroom.

“Organisations should be representative of the societies they operate in. Without women at the forefront of projects that drive change and innovation, Africa is missing out on half of the continent’s socio-economic potential,’ says Divesh Sooka, GM of ALX South Africa.

According to the Commission for Employment Equity’s (CEE’s) 23rd Employment Equity Report for the 2022/2023 financial year, the uptake of women employees in the ICT sector has seen a marginal improvement over the last few years. The proportion of women employed in the sector grew from 39,5% in 2021 to nearly 41,3% in 2023.

“While progress has been made in addressing the demand for digital expertise within emerging economies across the continent, there is still a critical need to bridge the gender divide, harnessing the untapped potential of women in the technology sector,” says Sooka.

South Africa has one of the highest rate of unemployment in the world despite a growing pool of graduates, many of whom have not gained the skills they need to enter the job market in high-demand industries.

Despite an eagerness to take part in their own social and economic progress, young South African women are not equipped to tackle the social and economic issues that disproportionately affect them because they lack access to digital skills and access to infrastructure.

A 2023 global survey found that skills shortage is viewed as the biggest obstacle to entry into Africa’s tech marketplace. Additionally, 21% of women in tech roles are working more than one job to make ends meet.

ALX aims to develop 2-million ethical and entrepreneurial African leaders by 2030, with a particular focus on helping women to participate and lead in shaping their communities and the world in the age of the digital revolution.

The company has partnerd with the Mastercard Foundation to launch a six-week, fully online AI Career Essentials (AiCE) programme. The fully sponsored programme combines technical knowledge, professional skills, and Al tools training in one programme.