Despite years of rhetoric about the need to promote female techies and entrepreneurs – both in Africa and worldwide -, unified, concerted action to achieve this has been half-hearted, to say the least. Until now. Over the past few months, a raft of women-oriented opportunities and initiatives have been launched, signalling the start to action, at last.
Across Africa, action-packed bootcamps, training programmes, and conferences are opening their doors – and eyes – to female techies and entrepreneurs, finally – because, while talk is easy, the only way to actually achieve gender equality in the tech world is to act, and engage women on the ground.
In Uganda, coworking space Outbox promotes women in technology by running a free 12 week course, training participants in programming and entrepreneurship; because, female entrepreneurs are instrumental in addressing the “intersection of opportunities/problems in community with their passions and interests”.
Similarly, South African accelerator codeX launched a free two-week bootcamp for young women aimed at encouraging more females to take up coding.
“The programme shows that IT is for women, that coding is fun, that it can be used for business and social impact and that it can be a great career path,” said codeX co-founder Elizabeth Gould.
Startup and investor community Silicon Cape recently hosted a TechWomen networking conference, under the theme “Supporting the Next Generation of Women Tech Leaders”.
The international tech and entrepreneurial community is on board, too; with a number of initiatives recognising the talent and potential of African tech women.
For example, Silicon Valley based incubator Blackbox announced it is to host a Blackbox Connect accelerator exclusively for female entrepreneurs from around the world.
“Our philosophy is that role modeling is the best way to influence others, we’re committed to increase the number of women role models /successful entrepreneurs and innovation leaders,” Fadi Bishara, founder and chief executive officer (CEO) of Blackbox told Disrupt Africa.
US state-department funded TechWomen opened applications for a new cohort of its exchange programme, which brings together emerging female leaders in STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) fields from emerging markets with professional counterparts in the US for a mentorship and exchange programme.
She Leads Africa partnered with Intel for the launch of a series of workshops Africa-wide exclusively targeting young female developers and tech entrepreneurs, aimed at providing skills and business training.
Younger women and girls are not excluded from this global push, with the likes of Technovation aiming to empower female students to engage with STEM subjects and career options.
Similarly in Rwanda, a global collaboration of public and private players launched a “Women in Science and Innovation” camp – to take place in the summer of 2015 in Rwanda – promoting the advancement of women and girls in STEM education and STEM careers.
Encouraging women and girls across the world to involve themselves with STEM subjects and become innovators is of paramount importance to continued development, and as a result to us all, because, as executive director of Technovation Samantha Quist so aptly put it: “Lack of diversity in science and technology stifles innovation”.
As a tech woman and entrepreneur, I’m so glad to see the world start to wake up to us, and to see so much action to get more of us out here.
Keep on Disrupting, ladies.