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South Africa: IITPSA President seeks renewed mandate

South Africa: IITPSA President seeks renewed mandate

Members of the Institute of Information Technology Professionals South Africa (IITPSA) will elect new leadership for the next twelve months in Johannesburg this evening during the 2016 Annual General Meeting.

Current IITPSA President Ulandi Exner, who has championed the cause for more women to be represented in the sector, has made herself available for re-election.

"Organisations are still rigid (when it comes to employing women). I am seeing it, where there are a couple of organisations which are a lot more mature, but I am not seeing enough change and as a result the industry is losing a lot of talent because women want to have both. They want to have a career and they want to raise a family. I don't see why they can't have both. It shouldn't be a choice."

Exner raised her concerns about the representation of women in the ICT sector during the announcement of the 2016 ICT Skills Survey by her vice president, Adrian Schofield in his capacity as Manager of Applied research at the JCSE.

Schofield's report on the ICT sector found that the average practitioner in South Africa " still white, male, 35, has a diploma or degree, has been working for ten years, and has been with the current employer for three years."

Exner has called for standardisation of the employment process and clearer definition of skills required in order to eradicate stereotypes that exclude women from the industry.

"One of the biggest barriers to making progress in gender equality is unconscious bias. We all suffer from it. We have already made up our minds about someone by looking at their gender, race and ethnicity. The most important first step we can take towards improving the culture for women in our organisations is to take an implicit association test in order to find out where our own personal biases lie. By discovering and acknowledging our own biases we will develop an awareness of them and hopefully open ourselves to change."

Exner is the first of four candidates hoping to form part of the IITPSA Board for the year ahead. Others are Senior Consultant Gail Sturgess, Information Systems Auditor Buthelezwe Ndlela and longstanding IITPSA member Dr Christian Johl who joined the University of Fort Hare in 2008 as its CIO.

The current IITPSA board consists of six non-executive directors and one executive director. Audited financial statements for 2015 show total membership to be sitting at 6700 members across the country. The report by the IITPSA Executive Council which will be discussed during the AGM today has set itself the goal of addressing  gender imbalance in the ICT sector during the new financial year.

"The Institute will be focusing on Women in IT and a number of projects and initiatives will be undertaken of which one will be a mentorship programme."

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