By Peace Obi
Vodacom Business Nigeria in its bid to bridge the gap between women and men in the ICT sector, where according to the National Bureau of Statistics, the ratio of Nigerian female workers to men stands at 3.3:1 in 2012; recently organised a one-day ICT field trip for female students from Baptist Girls Academy, Lagos.
The company which has over the years remained committed to mobilising support for girls in ICT through different programmes like mentorship, competition, facility tours, among others inspires and encourages young girls to take up a profession in ICT space.
Speaking to the students of Baptist Girls Academy, Lagos, who were at the Vodacom facility in Lagos recently, the Head, Human Resources, Mrs. Jumoke Mustapha told the students that the company appreciates the place of the youths in national development. And that as potential leaders ofÂ tomorrow, the IT firm considers very important. “And that is why we want to take you through this process and prepare you for the opportunities of the future.”
Restating Vodacom’s commitment in tackling gender disparity in ICT, Mustapha said that the company leads in gender equality when it comes to gender distribution at workplace. According to her, the company has continued to improve in its drive to encourage the participation of more females in ICT. “Currently, 43 per cent of Vodacomâ€™s workforce are females. In the last year, promotions of female employees rose by nine per cent, while 17 per cent of the executive workforce is female.
“Vodacomâ€™s working policies also allow women more flexibility around maternity leave and returning to work. However, with the decline in the number of femaleÂ candidates admitted into Engineering, Technology and ICT faculties between 2014 and 2015, it is important that more companies join in the promotion of females in ICT education in Nigeria.
In her presentation, theÂ Senior Manager, Product Portfolio, Mrs.Â Funke AtandaÂ told the school children that the future is technology and that theyÂ are the future scientists, engineers, and technicians that will change Nigeria and make the country join the league of countries with smart cities. Taking the students through sevenÂ technology trends that are currently changing the world today in some parts of the world today, Atanda said the world was in the era of machine talking to machine – Internet of things (IoT). As technology pervades every facets of life with homes and offices getting smarter through automation, she said the development calls for active involvement of Nigerian youths, especially the girls.
“Gender equality remains a challenge, particularly in the ICT sector, and so we realise that we should do more to bridge the disparity between male and female in this sector. By supporting ICT skills acquisition for girls, bringing females into our organisations to learn about new technologies and helping them further develop their ideas, we are able to encourage more girls to choose courses and careers in ICT. This will help increase the number of women in the ICT sector in the near futureâ€
“According the National Bureau of Statistics, of the 564 candidates admitted into the Faculty of Engineering in Lagos State, in 2014, only 129 were female. The numbers declined in 2015 with only 84 females admitted of the 414 candidates admitted into the Faculty of Engineering in Lagos State. By providing donations, training and support to ICT driven programmes, Vodacom Business Nigeria is accelerating the removal of barriers for girls and women in the ICT field.â€
Vodacom has created youth empowerment programmes like the Power to You project and #ConnectedSheCan, a campaign that targets a broad spectrum of women who face a range of challenges around work. Also, over the years, Vodacom Business Nigeria has supported Girls in ICT Day; an initiative of the ITU which aims to create a global environment that empowers and encourages girls and young women to consider careers in the growing field of ICTs, enabling both girls and technology companies to reap the benefits of greater female participation in the ICT sector. Atanda added that “Vodacom will continue to support and advocate for gender equality for women in and through ICT; this will strengthen their stance in the sector while continuing to improve lives of all around the world.”