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Tech savvy women committed to inspiring other women

Tegwen Galanat and Mikaela Gabriels want to inspire other women to get involved in careers in the tech space. Picture: Supplied

Tegwen Galanat and Mikaela Gabriels want to inspire other women to get involved in careers in the tech space. Picture: Supplied

Published Nov 28, 2021

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Women in tech are challenging the gender disparity in their field and are inspiring more women to pursue careers the male-dominated industry.

Software developers Mikaela Gabriels and Tegwen Galant want to show other women that working in tech can be a viable and fulfilling career.

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The pair met through UWC’s Future-Innovation Lab in collaboration with Samsung, a programme created to address gender and diversity imbalances in the sector.

Gabriels and Galant are graduates of the programme, in multi-platform software development and social innovation and describe themselves as women wanting to make their mark in the tech industry.

A report by PwC about women in tech confirmed that women hold 19% of tech-related jobs at top ten global companies, compared to men who hold 81%.

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In leadership roles, women make up 28%.

Galant said it has been tough as a woman in software development.

“I feel like we sometimes need to work ten times harder, but I am hopeful that the work we do will change that.

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“Whenever I’ve gotten stuck, it’s been women who helped me,” she said.

Gabriels said she remembers always having an IT guy at work, it was never a woman.

“It’s difficult because we are constantly undermined, but we are still striving for excellence,” she said.

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Both women agreed that access to education and opportunities in their industry were barriers to entry.

“There were such few opportunities on my radar, from what to study to jobs, it was always far and few.

“This skill set requires a lot of money and it’s not easy but with determination and the right mindset, it is achievable,” Galant said.

Gabriels said it was encouraging to hear that the work she does can make life easier for other people.

“That’s what pushes me. As small as it might seem, that’s what keeps me going. I love helping people.”

Galant said being a software developer has taught her to stop giving up on herself.

“I live by having a growth mindset now. If the work we put out there is enough to help one person, I am content with it.”

Retshidisitswe Lehata said it’s encouraging to see the gender disparity in tech slowly start to even out. Picture: Supplied

Software engineer at Luno, Retshidisitswe Lehata, said her love for software development came from a project she did in her high school technology class.

“I was still very intimidated by the prospect of choosing IT as one of my subjects in grade 10, so I didn’t.

“With the help of an aptitude test, I applied for a BSc in computer science at UWC,” she said.

Lehata said while studying she noticed a significant decline in the number of females in her class that were dropping out.

“This was very concerning for me at the time.

“Little did I know that the reduced number of females would be the tone for what was to come later on in my career, where in many situations I’d be faced with the reality of being the only female voice in the room.”

Lehata said the imbalance has robbed her of the experience of getting to work with other females in the tech space.

“On a personal level, this brings with it many challenges of finding your identity and voice within the space especially since we lack female role models.”

“I have seen a steady increase in the number of females within the tech industry over recent years, which is comforting,” she said.

The software engineer said a lack of representation is a huge barrier to entry in her industry.

“I think that if we encourage young girls to be curious about science and technology and show them more role models within the industry that we can bridge that gap a bit and hopefully have more representation in future.”

“We need to support females throughout their studies and early career stages to help them find their place within this male-dominated space,” she said.

Galant and Gabriels would like to help women acquire the skills they need to obtain a career in the industry.

Lehata shared the same sentiments and wants to use her skills set to help others with strategic decision making.

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