A South African Case Study of Women in the Information Technology Sector

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Retaining female participation in the information technology (IT) workforce is necessary to improve economic parity and ensure the development of technological solutions that are fully relevant to the needs of all citizens. Decision-making at higher levels of the South African IT sector is impacted by the low retention rate of females in this sector. The study aimed to identify the challenges South African women face in the IT work environment. A probability sampling technique was used to identify thirty women in the IT sector. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with them during 2019. The challenges that affect the retention of women in the IT workforce include unfair remuneration practices, work-life imbalance, a toxic and non-inclusive company culture, lack of representation, unequal opportunities for growth, resistance and being underestimated, and the fast-paced and high demands of the industry. Other challenges include the absence of female mentors and role models, inadequate recognition, and the lack of a technology background or exposure to technology from an early age. Eight recommendations are provided. This study investigates IT workers at the intersection of race and gender, giving a voice to female South African IT workers of all races.