The growing pandemic of disenfranchised South Africans has been identified as the biggest single threat to South Africa’s future prosperity. One of the areas where this is particularly pronounced is in the field of Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM).
This imbalance that disproportionately affects women in the technology sector is unlikely to be remedied unless organisations work to change entrenched practices and perceptions within STEM industries. Women currently hold 19% of tech-related jobs at the top 10 global tech companies, relative to men who hold 81%. In leadership positions at these global tech giants, women make up 28%, with men representing 72%.
So, why is this important to us? Why is it important to us here CZ Electronics to see more women in the STEM industries?
This is important to us for a number of reasons:
• Women are under-represented in these fields, where pay is generally better than in non-STEM jobs. Economists at PwC estimate that if we close the gender gap in both representation and pay gap by just 10%, South Africa could achieve higher economic growth. This means that when we empower women, we also empower our economy.y
• The key to resolving South Africa’s critical skills shortages, and ensuring the country is geared up for a digital future, lies in increasing the number of women educated and employed in STEM fields.
• Eight of the top 10 scarce-skills occupations in South Africa are STEM-related. Demand for technical skills and innovation capacity will only increase with the rise of the digital economy which is driven by rapid advances in 4th Industrial Revolution (4IR) technology.
• Closing the gender gap also helps to alleviate poverty: low-income households will receive an estimated 2.9% more income than previously.
It is clear to us that encouraging women into STEM would not only reduce the overall shortage of scarce and critical skills, but also strengthen women’s economic empowerment by moving them to the stability of the formal economy.
CZ Electronics has embraced this challenge of creating opportunity and inclusion for women in our industry. We meet this challenge in two ways:
• Through our Employment Practices: the majority of our 300 strong workforce are previously disadvantaged women.
• Through our Ulwazi Empowerment Initiative. Investment in our employees’ education and training serves a dual purpose – it provides opportunity for our people to better their lives, professionally and personally, while also creating a depth of talent
CZ Electronics believes that Bringing Tomorrow Home means that we need to create a generation of women workers in STEM that can enable a knowledge economy.