from DION HENRICK in Cape Town
CAPE TOWN – LOCAL schoolgirls are increasingly adopting a life-changing programme designed to address a dearth of female data scientists in South Africa.
SAS, the software firm, has partnered with the University of the Western Cape (UWC) to support the Women in Analytics designed to introduce Analytics and Data Science as a career choice for top-performing young female Grade 11 Mathematics students.
South Africa is not exempt from the gaps in this industry, with research indicating that globally, only about 15 to 22 percent of data scientists are women.
Locally, with funding assistance from SAS, the UWC Women in Analytics programme last year hosted a first in-person event aimed at introducing Grade 11 learners and their mathematics teachers to the world of analytics.
Talented girls were given an insight into Analytics and Data Science as a career.
The coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak of ruled out an in-person event this year.
There was an option to reach top-performing learners from previously disadvantaged schools in the Western Cape through a digital event.
This became impossible as schools involved lacked the facilities and computer equipment.
Instead, UWC and SAS produced gift bags for 100 top-performing female maths students at selected schools across Cape Town metropole.
A competition flyer was included.
Three winners were selected from the entries received, and each winner is the proud recipient of a Takealot e-voucher courtesy of SAS.
Two of the winners were from the Centre of Science and Technology. The third is a student from Rylands High.
Meanwhile, the Department of Statistics and Population Studies has had links with SAS for more than 20 years.
“Since we have started with these [Women in Analytics] initiatives, we are actually attracting more girls to the programmes,” said Prof. Renette Blignaut, professor of Statistics at UWC.
SAS has been instrumental in supporting their industry-directed Masters Programme specialising in Data Science.
“SAS is committed to promoting and advancing women in Analytics and Data Science careers,” said Andre Zitzke, SAS Manager: Global Academic Programmes.
In 2018, the South African government set a target of training 1 million young people in data science and related skills by 2030.
– CAJ News