More than 445 teachers across 14 African countries were surveyed in the 2021 Tomorrow’s Cyber Heroines study by CyberHeroines, KnowBe4 Africa and Infosphere Limited to unpack the complexities facing African girls in the technology landscape. With the future of Africa based on its ability to respond to digital transformation and the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR), it has become important for women to level the playing field. Changing the gender statistics of the cybersecurity workforce was never more relevant than it is today.
Key Findings from the survey:
- Over 445 teachers from 14 African nations disclose African girls’ path to technology and cybersecurity careers
- Cybersecurity is a subject that only 3.7% of African schools offer.
- Dissipating expectations for women, encouraging them to join technology and providing strong role models that shift the shape of the industry has become crucial.
“We need to give girls more opportunities, inspire them to engage in the field of technology and cybersecurity, and eliminate preconceived and socialized ideas that prevent women from pursuing technology careers,” says Anna Collard, Content Strategy SVP and KnowBe4 Africa Evangelist. The planet digitizes easily and women are in danger of being left behind. We have to shift the technology conversation to make it more inclusive for females.
The reality of the digital gender gap was underlined in a new report by the Association for Progressive Communications. Women have less access to internet-based technology in Africa than men, women have less resources, and are much more constrained in their ability to move out of poverty. Women will be the most affected as the world continues to transition into automation, as their functions are replaced by machines. Change has to begin now, it has to begin at home, and it has to be translated into education.
“We want African women to take part in the digital age-we can’t leave them behind,” says Aprielle Oichoe, InfoSphere’s Managing Director. We need to inspire girls to get into technology, and it begins at a young age. To change the way we treat young people, we need to make a deliberate decision. The dialogue must concentrate on making girls’ technology interesting, not just something they can ‘leave to their brother.’
The research found that there is a significant, long-term effect on women’s careers and futures due to a lack of knowledge, limited guidance, minimal role models and social preconceptions.
The market is wide open for those with the skill and training to create viable and effective futures, with cybersecurity and technology struggling to find eligible individuals. Training and education in technology and cybersecurity is important for the well-being of young girls and women in Africa, in addition to flourishing careers.
“Women of color are 34 percent more likely than their white counterparts to be targeted by online hate speech, according to research, and a huge percentage of African girls are concerned about their online safety,” says Collard. “We need to give them the tools, training and trust they need to prepare and safeguard themselves for this online vitriol.”
Negative expectations, lack of role models or mentors, low self-confidence, and competing in a male-dominated industry are the main factors that hinder women’s entrance into the worlds of technology and cyber security. In general, women are discouraged from STEM professions and often steered into traditionally feminine roles.
Oichoe says, “There is no such thing as a female role, not anymore.” “It’s just a chance now. We also have to make sure that everybody is given this opportunity.
The study unpacks the results, the perspectives, and the ideas that educators and experts across Africa have put forward.
It explores the curriculum for education, the obstacles young African girls face today, and looks at proposed policies that can be introduced to change perceptions and transform the future for African women.