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Girls’ massive uptake of STEM fields

JOHANNESBURG – AN oversubscribed coding initiative for girls in several African countries indicates the overwhelming demand for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) fields by young women in the continent.

Vodacom recently rolled out its #CodeLikeAGirl programme, which only had space for 600 young girls, the programme was oversubscribed by 40 percent, with more than 1 000 young girls registering to take part.

For the first time, the local programme attracted young girls from countries outside of South Africa.

The initiative attracted 25 girls from Albania, Botswana, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Kenya, Lesotho and Mozambique.

To cater for this huge demand, plans are underway to run another edition before end of this year.

Njabulo Mashigo, Human Resources Director for Vodacom South Africa, said the level of interest this year indicates the programme is making good progress in popularising coding among young girls.

“There is a huge interest out there from young girls to explore careers that require coding skills to help them get a start in STEM fields,” he said.

In South Africa alone, since the programme was launched, 1 332 girls have been trained.

Vodacom has covered close to 100 schools locally.

Female participation is lagging in a field that is expanding globally.

Men continue to dominate the number of STEM graduates in most countries.

Globally, just 35 percent of STEM students within higher education are women.

#CodeLikeAGirl programme ran virtually from October 4-7.

Learners were exposed to coding, robotics and development programmes including HTML, CSS, GitHub and Version control as well as JavaScript.

– CAJ News

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