by SAVIOUS KWINIKA
JOHANNESBURG – HUNDREDS of South African girls are to receive coding training over the coming weeks as part of efforts to narrow the gender digital divide at an early age.
Mobile operator, Vodacom, is leading the initiative.
It has launched a follow-up to its #CodeLikeAGirl programme that will benefit 700 girls between the ages of 14 and 18 in the scheme scheduled for June 27 to July 15.
Vodacom aims to train 1 500 girls from across all nine provinces in the current financial year.
The Vodacom #CodeLikeAGirl programme is aimed at inspiring more girls to explore careers that require coding skills to help them get a start in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) fields and industries.
Female participation in STEM fields is lagging in most countries.
Njabulo Mashigo, Human Resources Director for Vodacom South Africa, said gender norms, culture and stereotypes still shaped girls’ choices about their studies and their eventual careers.
Hence few young women are considering STEM and information and communication technology (ICT) careers.
Mashigo stressed the need to create more opportunities for girls and young women to build confidence in STEM, by empowering them through education and coding skills.
This would enable them be engineers and innovators of the future.
That would be in line with a vision to address the under-representation of women and girls in STEM education and careers.
“Through this initiative, we are looking to improve on these numbers, and empower even more women to explore STEM careers,” Mashigo said.
According to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), 35 percent of STEM students in higher education globally are women.
Young women also comprise only 25 percent of students in engineering or ICT.
Vodacom’s programme was first implemented in 2017. It covered South Africa, where the comp any is headquartered, Democratic Republic of Congo, Lesotho, Mozambique and Tanzania in 2017.
In South Africa, Vodacom has trained 2 332 girls since the programme was launched.
It had its biggest intake in 2021, with over 1 000 pupils taking part. Vodacom aims to train 1 500 girls in the current financial year.
– CAJ News