Women in Technology-the benefits and challenges – The Smile Jamaica TV interview expanded

I was asked to come an interview this morning on Smile Jamaica, the leading morning show on Television Jamaica. The topic was Women in Technology-the benefits,the challenges and how can our government implement more opportunities within the ICT sector. Of course the interview Simone Clarke Cooper and Neville Bell can stick to the script fully, a little or be in the flow. And that’s what happened.

I totally enjoyed the interview. I was also moved to write a blog on what I said and didn’t get to say either. Below are the questions that were send to me and me giving more full some answers.

Defining the Range that is the Technology Field

Let me first start by defining the framework from which I’m talking. Let’s define what we mean by the Tech/ICT field. Wikiepedia defines ICT as the following:

ICT refers to technologies that provide access to information through telecommunications. It is similar to Information Technology (IT), but focuses primarily on communication technologies. This includes the Internet, wireless networks, cell phones, and other communication mediums.”

Then we have this version. “Information and Communications Technology (ICT), is an extended synonym, an umbrella term which contains both Information Technology (IT) as well as Communications Technology under its fold. In fact, it is a very broad term used to refer to the literally infinite areas of scientific studies and techniques used in the handling of telecommunications; media management and broadcast; intelligent systems; data handling, processing, storage and transmission; network based solutions; as well as audio visual monitoring processes.”

And these definitions keep evolving, but we will keep it there for the purpose of this blog post. But as you can see, the limitless possibilities when we sit and think of it all or we attempt to drill down and distill the each pillar.

So now to the interview

Smile Jamaica TV:   A recent research from PwC revealed only 3 % percent f female students would consider a career in technology as their first choice. Why do you think that is?

Me:  You can’t be what you can’t see. Women who are in Tech need to raise their hands, voices and profile, so that other women and girls can see and know who they are, what they do. We need to be be aware of their story. Those stories matter, as they inform and inspire them to be what the CAN see.

So in essence, what we have is a communication challenge. You see, globally, regionally and locally – we have been sharing a very narrow and limiting narrative of what being in the tech industry looks like- what are it’s opportunities, and what more women in tech looks like and really means. We have been sold that it means more women science and engineering field, more women who code and that is trie. That’s simply not the only possible lanes. The Technology field is vast and almost limitless….and that’s a beautiful thing and we have to take the time and consistent effort to distill and communicate this at all levels in our school system and society.

Smile Jamaica TV:  When you look at the women who are at the top in technology such as Sheryl Sandberg COO of Facebook, Founder of Black Girls Code Kimberly Bryant where our Caribbean women in this space are?

Me: Ok let me name a few off the top of my head that also shows a range of possibilities for our Caribbean girls and women who are considering a move into the tech field

Janice McLeod- She is the founder of Agrocentral.co platform which allows buyers of agriculture produce to effectively communicate with their suppliers and manage the data and information associated with them. She is a Woman in Tech.
Fern Elise Foster – She co-founded Live Stush, a Jamaican-based Digital Agency. She is a Women in Tech
Alison Latchman – She co-founded Alcyone Studios that produced the super popular Cabbie Chronicles Animation series.
Lorna Green – She founded a pioneer who owned Digital Transites a software development companies for the aviation and mobile gaming industries. It was the largest company of this kind in the Caribbean.  She is a women in tech.
Dr Moniphia Hewling – Cyber Security Expert at the Minister of Science, Energy and Technology. She is a Woman in Tech.

And I could go on, but I will wait to reveal more about two upcoming events that we at Silicon Caribe are staging. The first will be in the second half of 2017 and will take the form of a Trend Briefing on Caribbean Women in Tech.  This is a run up event for the big event  which is slated for the first week of March in 2018 during that week of International Women’s Day When we will have the first Caribbean Women in Tech Summit event. So stay tuned to Silicon Caribe.com for that.

Smile Jamaica TV: From an educational point of view are we seeking to inform female students even from the Primary level to consider this as a career option?
Me: We  better! The changing of the mindset with a sustained exposure to the opportunities – career and entrepreneurial possibilities is really, really important. These young girls and young ladies in Jamaica and the Caribbean, need to see what they can be. They need to meet the women, watch the videos, read about and learn about it alll, so that that can see themselves in the field.

Smile Jamaica TV: In an article last year Energy, Science and Technology Minister, Dr Andrew Wheatley, underscored the need for greater female involvement in the field of information and communication technology? How can this be achieved are we looking at more women as programmers,I.T engineers reevaluating how we see technology in Jamaica and even the Caribbean

Me: We first have to acknowledge that getting more women in Tech goes beyond this current global, regional and local trendy moment. It cannot be a fetished thing. It has to be a fundamental decision at the policy levels in government, business and academic sectors to acknowledge and act accordingly- that more women in the tech field is crucial to us positioning ourselves as a country and a region for success in the Caribbean Digital Economy, the Global Digital Economy.

The need is real. Our success in being more innovative, entrepreneurial and wealth building depends on it.

So it’s not about that we need only more women who code…we need more

Women in e-commerce
Women in cyber security
Women in online game development ( The Average Social Gamer is a 43 year old woman)
Women in Digital Media
Women in Agile Development and Project Management
Women in social media (55% of Facebook Users are Women)
Women in Data Science
Women in Business intelligence development
Women in User interface (UI) design
Women in Artificial Intelligence
Women in eHealth
Women in Virtual and Augmented Reality

And I could go on.