Vodacom is launching a programme that will see over 600 young girls between the ages of 14 and 18 receive coding training virtually from 4-7 October. Vodacom’s #CodeLikeAGirl programme aims to encourage 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 is lagging in a field that is expanding globally and men continue to dominate the number of STEM graduates in most countries.
These were some of the concerns expressed by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) recently. According to the UNESCO report “Cracking the code: Girls’ and women’s education in STEM”, only 35% of STEM students in higher education globally are women. For example, only 3% of female students in higher education choose information and communication technologies (ICT) studies.
Njabulo Mashigo, Human Resources Director for Vodacom South Africa, said: “We recognise the immense value that gets added to the workplace when women and girls play significant roles in STEM fields and, through this project, our vision is to address the underrepresentation of women and girls in 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. Through this initiative, we are looking to improve on these numbers, and empower even more women to explore STEM careers.”
Coding is a way of solving problems, sequential thinking and stimulating, creating and designing. The ‘Code like a Girl’ programme aims to develop coding skills and valuable life skills for girls aged between 14-18 years and encourages them to consider the uptake of ICT and STEM subjects. It provides influential mentors for the girls to inspire them to be passionate about technology and its possibilities.
The 600 young girls from across South Africa will have the opportunity to learn how to code during the 2021 Spring School holidays (from 4 – 7 October 2020). This investment by Vodacom in digital skills training programmes for young women will help to narrow the gender digital divide at an early age in South Africa.
They will also be taken on a fun and empowering life skills journey while developing coding, presentation and communication skills – providing learners with well-rounded development. 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.
The programme was implemented in South Africa, Mozambique, Tanzania, DRC and Lesotho since 2017. In SA alone, since the programme was launched, Vodacom has trained 732 girls. It had its biggest intake in 2019, with 500 female learners from across eight provinces taking part and our aim is to double this number in 2020. Vodacom has covered close to 100 schools locally.
“Projects, such as Vodacom’s #Code like a Girl, have the potential to significantly close the gender gap and inspire young girls to pursue STEM careers in the digital era towards which we are transitioning. I believe that we can ultimately change the outlook of the number of females in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics careers, enabling those women to become pioneers within the technology space in a few years to come,” concluded Mashigo.