Women in IT Network Session

30th May 2013 (9:00 – 11:00), 3012 William Nicol Drive, Bryanston
This presentation was about creating insight and an opportunity for
growth and development for women in IT.

Spirituality is the Technology of the Consciousness.
The Source of all technology and creativity is the human mind.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

Because we are all connected, nothing outside of us will change until we change ourselves.  We tend to want to ‘change the world’ in order to make our lives better.  Instead, we need to change ourselves in order to make the world better.  It is a paradox.  The more you want to change the world, the more you have to change yourself.
Yehuda Berg (The Power to Change Everything)

The Power within women to rise above and succeed against any extremities we face.
This is the call of the time but why?

Women can be their own liberators from bondage and use the power within to empower themselves, other women, youth, children and disabled people.  Technology is not an answer on its own but rather a vehicle with unlimited possibilities to stimulate job creation, access to health and healing and education. Utilising technology as an enabler to help Africa to pull its people from the bondage of poverty and create avenues of self determination is possible.  This requires a culture of reading, researching, enquiring and lifelong learning from early childhood and catching young people in spaces that they understand thus using the power of social media and digitisation is key to inform, educate and empower.

Equally, like women in ancient times, we wail and cry out and be proactive in dealing with the challenges and the risk that go with advancing technologies to ensure that this new journey doesn’t cause more problems than it’s worth.  As we have seen in unprecedented and unintended instances on Twitter, Facebook, etc.

Imagine a place where women feel safe and their ideas are respected as a valuable component to society. Thus women’s thought, discussion and writing should not only be sought after, but implemented as a foundation of a caring culture. As incubators of life, women should meet regularly and consistently to exchange views on everything from family to health, from careers to spirituality.

THOUGHTS TO PONDER

  • Spirituality and technology
  • 21st Century Technology and Ancient Wisdom
  • Redefining Technology
  • Technology and Healthcare
  • Technology and Education
  • Empowering Women through Technology
  • Women as Users of Technology
  • Technology:  Are you a slave or a leader?

  • Women and social media
  • Women as creators of technology
  • Women as leaders of technology
  • Innovation and Creativity in Technology
  • Cultural stereotypes in IT
  • Why do women choose the IT space?
  • Are there new vistas that require higher consciousness and exploration?

GLOBAL INSIGHTS

Women as Leaders of Technology
Numbers are increasing in the field of technology and so is her impact. A technologically sound woman has a quest for Knowledge, value for life, a sense of creativity, a sense of responsibility and a desire to achieve much more for society.

Innovation & Creativity in Technology
A creative person is not content with just one creation. There is a constant quest to improve, innovate and upgrade. In the field of technology we are continuously faced with a newer, improved version for anything that we use.  As creators of technology, how do we tap the source of creativity and sustain the capacity to innovate?  As users of technology, it should take you to a place where you are in love with your own nature and astonished to see the creativity of the mind.  ‘Vismayo Yoga Bhumika’.  The journey to explore the undiscovered dimensions of the Mind and Self starts with a sense of wonder.  This exploration requires travelling light, discarding your baggage, letting go of the past, being open to receive, being positive, envisioning your dream.  The tools and processes that I would like you to consider should be according to your own beliefs and choice:

  • Meditation refers to any form of a family of practices in which practitioners train their minds or self-induce a mode of consciousness to realize some benefit.Meditation is generally an inwardly oriented, personal practice, which individuals can do by themselves. Prayer beads or other ritual objects may be used during meditation. Meditation may involve invoking or cultivating a feeling or internal state, such as compassion, or attending to a specific focal point.
  • We have all experienced music’s physical, mental and emotional effects on us at one time or another. In fact, the mental effect is so strong at times, a few lines from a song can keep running through our minds despite our efforts to ignore them or make them stop.  If you listen to the sound of your heart and breath, you’ll recognize the ancient rhythms of your own internal drumming. This forever connects you to the Mother of all creation, and to the sound of the planet Earth. These rhythms can’t be faked or forged; they are natural and eternal.
  • As we all know rhythm is a basic component to every natural living process. All people have natural rhythm, which often freezes due to unnatural and traumatic events. Drumming unlocks our natural right to feel alive and free.  Drumming has been used for centuries to release emotional stress, raise the spirits, enhance clarity and focus, develop co-operation and community bonds and celebrate significant events.
  • Reading and writing is a spontaneous spiritual calling.  It is an opportunity to inspire the telling of our own authentic stories as we are all authors and artists of our own lives;  it is a time for delving deep inside yourself and letting go so the truth heals you;  telling stories inspires other souls to have the courage to author their own stories in their own organic voices.  It’s an eternal gift and a thought memory that will live beyond your years and live forever – stories never die

Technology: Are you a Slave or a Leader?
The purpose of technology is to bring comfort, ease and progress to society. Yet, we often get lost in the very technology that we have created.  Technology is just a means to achieve this and not the end in itself. So we discuss the positive and negative impact of technology in our lives and ask ourselves some insightful questions.  How have our relationships and interactions changed?  How can one infuse human values and a sense of belongingness in a life inundated by technology? Have we achieved greater connections at the expense of losing the human and personal touch? What is the Middle Path in use of technology? How do we deal with Internet Addiction?

Women & Social Media
The scalable, accessible and pervasive social media have turned around the way we communicate with each other and transformed the perceptions of the world that we live in.  One can get caught in the World Wide Web or one can travel through it to connect and become more empowered. Technology brings connectivity and Spirituality brings the feeling of connectedness.  Metcalfe’s Law that characterizes social media says that interconnecting two networks is said to greatly exceed the power of the two separate, individual networks.

We have seen the social media transforming individual relationships, business, social trends and even impacting governments as in the case of the Jasmine Revolution in the Middle East.

Technology: Complementing the Human Touch
It is the prerogative of women to protect Mother Earth and the future generations.  Technology is a support system to society.  However, we need to take care of the economic and social fabric of the place. We still have vast untapped human resources that cannot be ignored especially in developing countries.  Can technology replace the human touch? How can technology support Mother Earth and be put to the best use to take care of the environment?  How does one encourage the use of eco-friendly technologies?  How does one manage e-waste and technological waste?

Technology & Health Care – A Holistic Approach to Medical Care
Has the intuitive capacity in medical care experts reduced because of too much dependence on technological tools?  Technology has worked for the betterment in Public Health Systems. However in the developing countries what has been the human cost?  Technology & Education:  What is the Impact of Technology on Learning?  Empowering Women through Technology:  What are the means to empower women in developing parts of the world through technology?  What can be done to facilitate technological education?

Ancient Civilizations & Wisdom
Progress can only take place when we adapt to changes. This can only happen through a scientific reappraisal of our heritage. One of the greatest benefits of modern technology is that it has helped us to connect so easily and beautifully to our past. We can compare and learn from the past positively and learn what not to repeat.  Here we explore the links between the ancient cultures of the world and the technology of our times. Modern mathematics, metallurgy, architecture owe a great debt to the past.

Redefining Technology
In general understanding, technology is associated with machines. Yet, the term has evolved into having larger connotations. It is also associated with the knowledge, wisdom, skills and processes related to a certain subject such as Medical Technology, Biotechnology.

The Spiritual Connection
A woman’s circle of influence is large and she brings a passion for life, sharing, caring and dedication. Our wealth is not just the technology in our lives, but our health, our relationships and the human values with which we live.  The complete technology is in the mind. This wonderful mind needs to be managed through spirituality and understanding how important it is to attend to the source. Intelligence is managing one’s own mind along with managing other things and understanding priorities:

  • The importance of mind management.
  • Wisdom from scriptures relevant to the Age of Technology.
  • The Relevance of Spirituality in the life of a technologically sound woman.

We need to bring back great learnings from the way that people live in a developing country and master the art of living – these people have absolutely nothing however have generosity of spirit, faith, compassion, simplicity and naturally espouse universal values of the spirit of Ubuntu and unity, humility, a sense of belonging and the desire to serve.  They also have an amazing ability to use creativity and innovation especially in IT.

Let us all be inspired, creative and innovative by creating strategies and plans to utilise social media and multimedia to inform, educate and entertain the nation whilst entrenching our core values and dealing with our national priorities that impact on women.  This is a key call as we move towards digitization and it’s an opportunity for us to use technology to touch lives and make a difference.

Let’s consider New vistas to explore inspired by the research done by Nancy Ramsey and Pamela McCorduck (Anita Borg Institute for Women and Technology)

  1. The micro-climates of IT and their consequent different requirements. The array of career possibilities in IT is wide, and each micro-climate suits a different kind of personality or temperament, and requires different educational preparation.
  2.  Where are the gaps that Women in IT should be pursuing?  Over the decades the question of uneven participation by women in information technology has been studied.  Thus the question arises: so what? If women won’t play the game as it’s now played, what’s the difference? We’re still number one.  A second question follows. If, as industry groups report, the field is shrinking (thanks to global sourcing and better productivity) why encourage women to enter this field?
  3. Is the problem something peculiar to the field itself? When women have come close to achieving parity in such fields as law, medicine and biology, what’s wrong with the IT culture that it not only fails to attract and retain women, but the small proportion it once had is eroding? How have other fields, such as biotechnology, been more successful at attracting and retaining women? Is the under-representation of women approximately the same across all segments of the field, from bread-and-butter data processing to the highest reaches of academic and industrial research and development? Do the same problems exist internationally? That is, are women underrepresented in Chinese, Taiwanese or Indian IT? If not, how have these cultures solved the problem? On the other hand, if these cultures exhibit the same disparity, can we use their imbalances as a competitive advantage by replicating those few but identifiable academic and corporate institutions, where women are attracted, stay, and flourish?
  4. How wise is the common wisdom? Commonly cited barriers to women’s success in IT are long hours that conflict with family responsibilities, few female role models, and old-boy networks that are difficult to crack. Is this a more socially acceptable (or less troublesome) response women make to people taking surveys, rather than trying to explain the difficulty of holding on to a professional identity in the face of systemic stereotyping, dualism, and devaluation.
  5. What can social psychology contribute? Social psychologists have proposed a number of theories to explain the disparity between the numbers of men and women in IT, such as false dualisms, individual differences, or organisations that are “chilly” to women. Which of these-or which other theories-best explain the situation and suggest solutions to the problems?  Questions about nature vs. nurture continue to be raised. The existing literature is overwhelmingly persuasive that girls and women can cut the scientific and mathematical mustard, and very well, which is how the question has always been framed. But it’s still a fact that at certain decision points in their lives, many girls and women choose not to. For example, adolescent girls, who have excelled at math (and even exceeded their brothers) sometimes decide that other things, like social activities, are more important to them and diffuse their focus; undergraduate women make similar decisions; young career women likewise make such decisions on behalf of childbearing, etc. We have assumed that this is cultural-if the technological culture were less exasperating for women in particular, if the larger culture took the responsibility of providing superb childcare, then women would make different decisions about their lives.  We do not know whether this is really true. Are these decisions to choose other paths nature or nurture, programmed in or socially determined? Some rigorous inquiry into questions like these is essential.
  6. What more can women themselves do? Along with their technical training, women desperately need training in how to promote themselves effectively, how to get over undue modesty about Brand Me. At the same time, their male colleagues need training to recognise such behavior as appropriate to the competitive nature of the field, and not just some woman’s “aggressiveness.”
  7. What do the successful organisations have to teach? IBM in industry and Carnegie Mellon in academia are two examples of organisations that are attracting and retaining a significantly larger proportion of women than their peers. Though women there have not reached parity, what can be learned from them and adapted elsewhere?
  8. Should the field be redefined? A number of professionals in academia have begun to ask whether the traditional curriculum and training is actually germane to the field as it has evolved since its early days. This set of issues needs to be studied further, with inquiry into the “multiple entries” that several people cite as more typical of the field now than earlier. While training, especially at the university level, is properly the responsibility of the field’s practitioners, presentation of concrete evidence that other kinds of skills are (also) in demand in this changed world of IT might help persuade those practitioners to re-think the highly abstract nature of the field as it is now conceived.
  9. Who are the stakeholders? At some level we all are.  The loss of this creative engine of the last fifty years would be a stunning blow to economies. But at finer-grained levels, investors, whether equity holders or venture capitalists, have much to say about the companies they invest it. We don’t suggest that organisational change is easy, or that it can be done in a spirit of mere generosity and fairness. But if crucial stakeholders are persuaded that better results can and will result from companies that embody diversity, venture capitalists, for example, following their own economic interests, will bring pressure to bear for change.

There is only one thing which either helps or hinders, it is the application of our Ideal in our life.  When we miss the higher inspiration of the inner Power, we miss everything.  That which is vital in our life and that which cannot be separated from our life is inborn.  How do we carry it?  As the flower carries fragrance – unconsciously.  All our higher thoughts and aspirations are ours by innate right.  When we forget this, our vision becomes distorted.  Forget yourself and you will be lifted up to a state of inspiration and become a mouth-piece of the Highest.

WHAT ARE THE TOOLS THAT WE CAN USE TO LISTEN TO THE INNER VOICE?

  1. Eradicate the clutter, simplify your life in order to free your spirit
  2. Live an inspired purposeful, empowered and meaningful life
  3. Deal with any form of loss be it physical, emotional, spiritual or material
  4. Trust your inner voice.  Listen to your intuition.
  5. Relieve tensions and resolve issues immediately
  6. Dissolve volatile emotions and understanding why the emotions are volatile
  7. Break self destructive habits that are a barrier to growth
  8. See blessings in every crisis.  When one door closes another opens
  9. Clarify your vision and be true to it.
  10. Turn challenges into opportunities – be open to seeing the possibilities
  11. Always be honest and truthful and don’t be afraid to be who you are and to pursue your unique calling which is unrepeatable
  12. Listen!   Learn!   Love!   Live!   Lead!   Leave a legacy!

What is the dream inside you that you will live for or die for?
What stands between you and your journey?
What actions, steps and resources do you need to make it happen?

THE ROAD AHEAD

Draw from the strength from Mohammed Ali who has such faith and great strength and belief in his own actions that when he went into the ring he celebrated himself already as a winner!!  What counts in the ring is what you can do after you are exhausted, the same is true of life.   However run despite feeling discomfort, run even when faced with despair, say no to prejudice,  to failure, don’t lose sight of your goal, envision yourself as a winner.  If you do, the will can never retire.  The race can never stop and faith can never weaken.  Do it against all odds and listen to your inner voice.  Choose to follow your heart.

It is possible for girls and women from all walks of life to glimpse a brighter and bigger world and to leave with a voice and a mindset of “I CAN! I AM! and I WILL! and the power of technology will assist them to turn their wounds into capacities – capacities to heal and the wisdom to heal others!

I leave you with the words of Brennan Manning from Abba’s Child: The Cry of the Heart for Intimate Belonging: 

“In a futile attempt to erase our past, we deprive the community of our healing gift. If we conceal our wounds out of fear and shame, our inner darkness can neither be illuminated nor become a light for others.”

Every human being has a unique genius.  Our individual inner power and infinite wisdom is always with us.  All we need to do is tap into it, if we are to stay aware and fully embrace the call to dance to our inner rhythm, and the rhythm of the universe, and so be free.

Let it be and so be it
Love, Light and Laughter

Words: Yvonne Kgame
Source: Wikipedia, etc.

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