Kuda Bank announced internship slots exclusive to women and Nigerian men had a collective meltdown on Twitter. The kuda bank saga made a couple of things crystal clear to us;
- Many men truly believe that women are unqualified for some positions and that that is the cause of the disparity in representation. There is the subconscious and sometimes even conscious belief that women are uninterested in tech or unqualified for tech positions when this is not the case.
Women have been barred from entry into male-dominated careers throughout history, especially in science and technology. Remember the burning of “witches”? To close the gap wedged by women’s historical exclusion from these fields, affirmative action is necessary. The unfortunate fact is that men who are given a pass for mediocrity expect flawlessness and perfection from women who want to venture into these fields. The gatekeeping is insane.
Men took the attempt at inclusion to mean their direct exemption, a deprivation of a slot that could possibly belong to them. Even men who were unqualified for said position still believed that it should not be allotted to women because hiring women must somehow mean a decline in the quality of labour. Privilege is blinding and so, it is unsurprising to see men flare up at an attempt to combat a problem so important that affirmative action is prescribed by the United Nations to curb it through SDG 5.
- Affirmative action towards equal representation is considered to be discrimination. An analogy was drawn to illustrate the ridiculousness of this notion. Universities in western countries tend to prioritise diversity and offer scholarships to foreign students that are not available to the indigenous people of said countries or only members of a particular deserving demographic. Is this practice discriminatory? Or is it simply proactive action to solve the problem of lack of accessibility and representation?
- The sexism that people so vehemently deny is present in tech, is evident in the response and strong aversion to the internship program for women proposed by Kuda Bank. The goal was to train women in the field as there was a recognisable need for parity. Men were incensed and took this to be a direct affront to them, and of course, that singular act by Kuda meant women had passed the threshold of demanding for equality and were now attempting to seize superiority. The wailing and gnashing of teeth were endless that day.
The amount of men that insinuated (or said directly) that this action was somehow going to diminish the craft was staggering. No! More rights for someone does not mean fewer rights for you and Kuda does not intend to stop hiring men. There is no shortage of male staff in their employ and, there is an inadequate representation of women (a motivator for the internship program).
The road to gender parity is undoubtedly one that will be fraught with difficulty. Affirmative action will probably always be met with antagonism and criticism. This is because many people can’t see past their own nose and understand that women have been marginalised for too long and these wrongs will not right themselves.