Let us Break the Bias Together

The DSAA is boosting women’s digital literacy across Africa to positively impact their communities.

“Imagine a gender-equal world. A world free of bias, stereotypes, and discrimination. A world that is diverse, equitable, and inclusive. A world where difference is valued and celebrated. Together, we can forge women’s equality. Collectively we can all” #BreakTheBias

Does the statement above ring a bell with you?

Yes! I know it does since March is International Women’s Month, a month set aside by the United Nations to honor women all throughout the world. As a result, it is no surprise that almost every individual, organization, and cooperative institution has used social media sites such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to commemorate International Women’s Day this year. However, International Women’s Day is not just a one-day celebration for us in Azubi Africa because we believe that establishing a collective action and shared ownership for achieving gender parity is what makes the day meaningful, which is why women’s empowerment and gender inclusion are at the heart of all our activities.

As part of its efforts to significantly increase the number of females in Africa’s tech industry, Azubi Africa’s inclusion team organized a virtual event that brought together stakeholders in Ghana’s tech ecosystem to deliberate on the challenges and share ideas on how to increase the number of females in the tech industry to commemorate this year’s International Women’s Day celebration.

Wondering why was the focus on the tech industry?

While many countries in the West are seeing more women in leadership positions within politics and even classic old-boys industries such as finance, Africa as a continent cannot say the same. Across sub-Saharan Africa, 2.5% of vice-chancellors are women, and 5% of CEOs are women.   Although women make up 43% of those who receive tertiary education, they hold only 28% of formal sector jobs (McKinsey Global Institute. 2019). In addition, when we drill down to the STEM sector — the numbers are even direr. According to UNESCO, the percentage of tech jobs held by women is just 30% in Sub-Saharan Africa. These statistics highlight the vast disparity between men and women pursuing STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics).

The difference in women’s participation in STEM, particularly in the tech industry, necessitates that more developed countries and tech-oriented training institutions assist those who have yet to create the required infrastructure to encourage more women in this field. In this light, GetINNOtized launched the Azubi Africa training program in collaboration with the Digital Skills Accelerator Africa e.V. (DSAA) to deliver free training in data science and cloud technologies to African youth, with a special focus on females.

How is Azubi Africa breaking the bias in tech?

Recognizing that digital skills training has traditionally been seen as the preserve of men, Azubi Africa has put in place a strong affirmative action process that creates an atmosphere that allows all female applicants who exhibit interest in our program in Ghana to participate. As such, the following measures were put in place to promote the gender inclusion course:

Female applicants who made it to the interview stage are usually paired with a female interviewer. This is aimed at creating a calm atmosphere that fosters greater correlation and establishes a long-term relationship between the applicant and interviewer.

At Azubi Africa, female trainers are given the opportunity to handle most of the training sessions. This is designed to provide a welcoming environment and a safe area for female learners to keep their hopes and dreams alive. The purpose for this is because research showed that the majority of our female trainees preferred to be in a class led by a female trainer because it gave them more confidence.

Azubi Africa also has an extracurricular club known as the Women in Digital Spaces club, which focuses on Women in the Tech ecosystem. This is in addition to an already operating internal Women in Tech club. The Women in Digital Spaces club meets on the third Friday of each month to debate topics involving gender inclusion in Africa’s tech landscape and is open to both Azubis and non-Azubis.

Through these and many more measures, Azubi Africa has successfully trained and certified over 1000 female applicants in data science and cloud technologies.

Why do we need more women in the tech industry?

The advantages of enabling women to engage in the digital economy are self-evident. Initiatives to promote digital literacy and improve access to Internet-enabled devices, as well as attempts to bolster the confidence of women and girls, who have long been discouraged from competing against their male peers, will be critical to success. It is in this regard that the Digital Skills Accelerator Africa e.V. (DSAA) with support from Invest for Jobs – the Special Initiative on Training and Job Creation of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), is boosting women’s digital literacy across Africa to positively impact their communities by not only providing digital training programs but also providing a wholesome support system connecting not only women in tech but also a wider ‘Women in STEM’ network of professionals for more mentorship and networking capabilities.

There is no doubt that several challenges exist; however, despite the complexities and obstacles, Azubi Africa and DSAA recognize that the key to success will be to implement concrete initiatives to teach digital skills and expand access to technology, as well as increase efforts to boost the confidence of women and girls if the continent is to thrive in the new economy that the Fourth Industrial Revolution is ushering in.