From the beginning, women and girls have played an important role in science and technology. Ada Lovelace is considered the first computer programmer, and without the work of tech pioneers like Hedy Lamarr and Barbara Liskov, we would not have Wi-Fi and email as we know it. But despite this, women and girls are still underrepresented in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) education and careers. Only 35% of girls enter further education in STEM subjects and many have little encouragement to equip themselves with the skills to thrive in these industries.
In response to these concerns, Vodacom is taking part in a Vodafone global initiative aimed at providing teenage girls across 26 countries, including 14 to 18-year-old girls in South Africa, with coding training. The Vodacom Code Like A girl programme started last year as pilot in Gauteng reaching 20 young girls from Tembisa schools who were taught how to code. Now Vodacom in the KwaZulu Natal region has offered 37 school-going female learners from various districts including Umlazi, Wentworth, Phoenix and Chatsworth an opportunity to learn how to code during this winter school holidays, from 9 – 13 July 2018, at its Head Quarters in Ridgeside, Umhlanga.
Steven Barnwell, Managing Executive for Vodacom KwaZulu Natal commented:
'In recent years, there has been significant progress in closing the global gender gap in various aspects of society. However, in many countries, including South Africa, the gap is widening in STEM careers. Vodacom’s programme with Code First: Girls is designed to give girls an interest in a sector currently more popular with boys, helping widen their opportunities and increase their future career choices.'
'For Vodacom, teaching girls how to code is the first step towards changing their outlook towards careers in STEM fields. Through this we hope to inspire young girls to reach for the stars and pursue careers that will take Vodacom and related industries into the next digital era.'
At the end of the week, each girl will know how to develop her own website and present her work to the rest of the coding class. Prizes will be awarded to the top websites developers. Through the programme, we aim to change the outlook of the number of females in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) careers, and ultimately Women in Technology.
'This is another way we are empowering our connected society,' concluded Barnwell.
Vodacom wants to see more girls get started with coding from a young age, and through its #CodeLikeAGirl initiative, they are encouraging girls to explore programming for fun and to develop their skills in science, technology, engineering and maths.
The future is exciting
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