Survey reveals African women are taking control of their careers

The research shows 84 percent of female employees in Africa have upskilled during Covid-19.

For this year’s International Women’s Day, Michael Page Africa, a leading recruiter of managers and senior executives on the African continent, has garnered insights from female professionals on how they feel about their jobs, skills, remote working and other aspects of employment and job seeking.

From challenge comes change

Having summarised the highlights of its 2020 surveys, Michael Page’s results suggest that despite the challenges women face, they are taking charge and trying to change it for the better. During 2020, 84 percent of female job applicants learnt new skills related to their roles. Sixty percent of them did this to improve their ability to be innovative at work. Significantly, 60 percent started to seek roles outside of their current sector and/or position, further advancing the idea that women are taking control of their careers.

These three statistics emphasise that while many companies offer training and career progression, it would appear it’s not enough for today’s female professionals, as survey statistics show they are looking for better opportunities.

Women also hope that the world will experience some positive outcomes from the difficulties faced in 2020, with 73 percent thinking the pandemic will bring about positive effects in general. Eighty-one percent also firmly believe that the global conversations about “key-workers” and “essential jobs” will bring about more respect for certain roles which are, more often than not, female dominated in sub-sectors such as nursing, teaching and retail work.

How female professionals coped with 2020

When asked about their motivation while working from home, and their thoughts on job security, 57 percent felt confident they would have job security for at least the next 12 months. In terms of flexible work, 58 percent of female job respondents said their productivity increased while they were working from home, which affirms flexible work as an attractive policy for companies. Fifty-five percent said they would like to be able to work remotely more often in the future, even when a sense of normality has returned.

Choose to challenge and choose to change

The 2021 International Women’s Day theme is ‘Choose to Challenge’, and Julien Raze, head of Africa at Michael Page, says, “We know that a diverse team brings different perspectives and insight to our business, generating creativity, problem-solving and sustainability that wouldn't otherwise be possible.” This is something all companies should bear in mind as they contemplate their gender equity strategies.