Kim Palmer

Technology is growing, and it’s growing at a fast pace, and you shouldn’t be putting any restrictions on yourselves. My advice to young women is to go and grab any sort of technology they find fascinating and take it further by solving problems in their community through technology.

Country of origin

South Africa

Which company do you work for?

On The Ball College

What is your specific area of specialisation?

I have 22 years of ICT experience and over 20 years of entrepreneurship experience.

How long have you been in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) fields?

For over 22 years.

As a woman in a male dominated industry, what has been the biggest challenge you have faced in your career, and how did you overcome it?

My biggest challenge has been to be heard and listened to. “I choose to do and show the results through my work, and in that way, it forces people to listen.”

What inspired you to join this industry?

At the time when I joined a career in ICT it was one of the up-and-coming careers in our country to become a Microsoft Systems Engineer, and I saw an opportunity to be part of a career that can solve many problems in our country. The influence came from my father who saw the potential of growth for the coming years in this sector through talking to people in his network at the time. Bill Gates at the time leading Microsoft to great heights as a tech company, was another influence for me to want to be part of such a professional body.

What changes, if any, have you seen in your field with regards to women in your field?

It’s a sector where women are grossly under-represented — only 23% of tech jobs are held by women in South Africa. I have seen, specifically in the last 5 years, how women who are in STEM have started standing up to encourage other women to join this sector. We are starting to see more innovation from women and more women joining this sector because of other women showing and leading the way. Companies and government have adopted policies to ensure this inclusivity starts becoming a way of life to include women.

How can we attract more women to consider a career in the STEM fields?

The solution to promote inclusivity in the local tech sector lies in encouraging and supporting women to pursue careers in STEM. We need to create access to STEM career resources and role-models. The platform Atingi is an example of a resource that will promote the growth of STEM in women. I truly believe women will only go into a career that they are exposed to — that’s where your dreams and your aspirations arise. I too run a seminar annually in August called The Women in ICT conference, where we have a network of 1000+ women and girls. Here we give women and girls the opportunity to be inspired and empowered by other women in the STEM sector through them sharing their journey and giving them access to resources within the sector they would not have had access to. For example: Free ICT training or exploring various career options or funding opportunities.

If you were to advise other young women starting their careers in the tech or within the STEM fields, what is the one thing you would say to them?

Technology is growing, and it’s growing at a fast pace, and you shouldn’t be putting any restrictions on yourselves. My advice to young women is to go and grab any sort of technology they find fascinating and take it further by solving problems in their community through technology.

When not working, what do you do for fun?

I love spending time with my family, friends and exploring the outdoors. It’s through these times that I get some really great innovative ideas.

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