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Cape Town

‘Silicon Cape event to tackle lack of diversity in tech sector’

Cape tech group Silicon Cape plans to address the lack of diversity in the Cape tech sector – a sector dominated by white males – at an event in Cape Town later this month.

Entrepreneur Antoinette Prophy, who holds the diversity and transformation portfolio on Silicon Cape’s community council and runs business mentoring organisation 88collective, told Ventureburn today that the event – Tech eKasi – would be held on May 31.

“Most of the boardrooms that I step into are (dominated by) pale males. It’s our responsibility to bring more women into tech,” she said.

Prophy was speaking today as part of a panel discussion on gender equality held in Cape Town at the offices of mobile money company Zoona. The event formed part of the global 50/50 day organised by filmmaker Tiffany Shlain to promote her film 50/50.

“There’s this notion that women are not comfortable in tech, but not in my world,” said Prophy. However she added that the tech sector often came across as ‘elitist” and difficult for women to enter.

She pointed out that Silicon Cape has also been engaging with students at the University of Western Cape and the University of Cape Town on why so few students choose to open their own business. Most she students reckoned were not choosing to do so because they simply “don’t know how”.

‘New approach is not let’s take what has worked — as it’s clearly not worked’

She also hinted that under newly appointed managing director Ellen Fischat, who started her position on Monday, Silicon Cape is looking to do things differently.

“There’s a new community council, a new managing director, the new approach is not let’s take what has worked — as it’s clearly not worked,” says Prophy.

Read more: New Silicon Cape head pledges to make sector’s ‘old boys’ club’ more inclusive

Ventureburn asked why South Africa does not have any initiative that targets high-growth women entrepreneurs – such as Start-Up Chile (S Factory) or Enterprise Ireland (Going for Growth) do.

Prophy pointed to the Women in Tech programme which is run by public speaker Robyn Farah and aims to hold networking sessions to address the shortage of female tech workers.

  • Jenny Howard

    Editors, why is “pale males” acceptable to use in print? How is this any less bigoted than using “darkies?”

    If you are trying to encourage diversity and inclusivity , this is not the way to go about it.

    SA desperately needs entrepreneurs and startups that can be successful on the international stage and create the jobs that the country is lacking.