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Female participation is falling in a field that is expanding globally and men still dominate the number of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) graduates in most countries, South Africa among them. In response to these concerns, Vodacom took part in a Vodafone global initiative throughout 2017 aimed at providing teenage girls across 26 countries, including 14- to 18-year-old girls in South Africa, with coding training.

In what is the largest international, in-person global coding programme of its kind, Vodafone partnered with Code First: Girls, which runs coding courses for women and girls, to provide five-day coding workshops for teenage girls across its geographical footprint in South Africa, Europe, India, the Middle East, and Australasia.

Matimba Mbungela, Chief Human Resources Officer at Vodacom, had this to say on the successful initiative: '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.'

Code First: Girls

Vodafone’s coding course with Code First: Girls has been created to be suitable for all girls of ages 14 to 18, irrespective of their skills. The programme, which will continue to run throughout 2018, provides basic knowledge of computer languages and development programmes including HTML, CSS, GitHub and Bootstrap, enabling the students to develop a website by the end of the one-week training programme.

Code First: Girls is a multi-award winning social enterprise that works with companies and women to increase the proportions of women in tech. They do this by running free coding courses for young women and paid coding courses for men and women, by advising companies on tech talent, and by running a community of 5500+ women who are interested in tech. They are the largest provider of free in-person coding courses for women in the UK. Over the past three years, they have delivered over £2.5 million (R42 million) worth of free tech education, taught over 5000 women how to code for free, and have helped companies to recruit and train better tech talent in their firms. For more info, go to

Mbungela says coding is becoming one of the most in-demand skills across industries as an increasing number of businesses now rely on computer code. Half of all programming openings are in industries outside of technology, such as finance, healthcare and manufacturing, while recent research found that coding has become a core skill that bolsters a candidate’s chances of commanding a high salary.

'Empowering women and helping young people increase their skillset through technology are two important areas of focus for Vodafone as part of the company’s 10-year sustainable business goals. By 2025, Vodafone’s ambition is to be the best employer for women. The company is also seeking to connect 50 million women living in emerging markets to help improve their lives and livelihoods,' adds Mbugela.

Vodacom wants to see kids 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.

Interested in coding? You can also learn to code with the help of Google online right now. 

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