81% African women in STEM careers negatively impacted in financial support, COVID impact  

81% African women in STEM careers negatively impacted in financial support, COVID impact  

52% believe women’s careers in technology suffered due to COVID-19 and cost-of-living crisis; 32% of those in the technology sector say they haven’t received a promotion for over 24 months; 68% see a skills shortage as a key barrier to entry; 21% of women in Africa technology roles are working more than one job to make ends meet; women still need better pay and better flexible working opportunities.

A new global survey of women and allies, held under the theme DigitALL: Innovation and technology for gender equality, reveals that parity for women in technology-related positions and industries is still a way off, and suggests that COVID-19 has had a major role to play in blocking women’s advancement, along with a skills shortage, and that women are further hampered in their progression by a cost-of-living crisis and lack of access to funding.

The survey entitled, A deep dive into challenges and opportunities for women’s technology careers and women-led enterprises across Asia, Europe and Africa, attracted respondents from those three regions, with 45% of respondents who live and work in Africa, 38% based in Europe and 17% in Asia.

The survey is part of a new annual benchmark survey mapping barriers faced by women in business, perceptions around why they cannot move forward, as well as potential solutions and opportunities to bridging the equality divide.


The survey found that over half, 56% of respondents believed that when it came to the recent pandemic and to economic challenges in general, it was women who missed out on work opportunities, were forced to scale down work and take time off to care for children, as well as undertaking more household chores.

26% of the respondents believe women are more likely than men to have been denied access to financial support from governments, whilst a further 26% perceive women as shouldering most of the burden of childcare or care of other dependants in their households whilst juggling work responsibilities. The number increases to almost 81% of African women. The cost-of-living crisis seems to have a bigger impact in Africa than in Asia and Europe.

Working more than one job is increasingly commonplace – 15% revealed they used to be self-employed or own a business but have now taken another job whilst running their business on the side, with 21% of African respondents confirming they are now working two or more jobs, a greater proportion than their counterparts in Europe and Asia.

Whilst women still experience gender bias in the technology sector, overall, unemployment in the technology ecosystem was found to be less than other surveyed industry sectors, with just 2% of women technology workers across the three regions targeted made redundant over the past 24 months. 12% of those respondents are now working full time when they used to be unemployed and a further 16% are now working full-time up from their part time roles.

73% of women respondents across the three continents have seen their employment situation in the technology sector impacted by a lack of career development opportunities, with 32% revealing they had a pay loss and, or haven’t received a promotion for more than 24 months, although this could be due to the pervading economic climate.

Lack of funding

The survey shows that women are still a long way from achieving equality when it comes to obtaining funding. Having a greater amount of women-focused business events and awards is perceived as one of the most powerful initiatives, which has helped women-led start-ups get better access to funding over the last 24 months. This is closely followed by more women in technology being championed in the press. African women, however, seem to struggle the most, with 19% saying it is now significantly more difficult to access funding.

Other factors that could lead to better support for women-led business and to encourage more women to enter the field, include the presence of more women-led venture capital funds and women-focused accelerator programmes.

Underlining this, and on a continent that is increasingly reliant on the start-up ecosystem for economic sustainability, Africa is where women, 41% struggle the most to launch a new business, whilst 68% of respondents believe skills shortage to be the biggest obstacle to women entering the sector.

Sadly, 40% of African women respondents believed it was more difficult for women to secure a pay rise in technology, whilst 41% said it was more difficult for women to achieve senior leadership or board positions.

Women would like to see better visibility and promotion of STEM career opportunities for women to help more women break into and thrive in the technology industry. This would help achieve more gender equity with their male counterparts in the sector, as well as more equal pay between genders and better flexible work opportunities.

Women also believe that there need to be more mentorship programmes for women, as well as opportunities to participate in panel discussions and debates and the development of female role models, which will assist in encouraging more women to enter STEM related businesses.

Given that women bore the brunt of the parenting role and household care, women also believe that more support at work for parents and having flexible working hours and arrangements would help level the playing fields.

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