South African coding school WeThinkCode_ has partnered financial services firm Momentum Metropolitan and security company MWR InfoSecurity to launch a programme aimed at addressing the under-representation of women in technology.
According to UNESCO, only 23 per cent of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) talent globally is female, while in South Africa women represent only 20 per cent of the workforce in technical roles.
This under-representation is reflected at WeThinkCode_, which runs a two-year, tuition-free training programme to create pathways to employment for young South Africans between the ages of 17 and 35. Over the course of four years over 900 young people have joined the WeThinkCode_ programme, with more than 200 already graduating into full-time employment, but only 17 per cent of its 2019 cohort are women.
To address this, WeThinkCode_ has partnered Momentum Metropolitan and MWR InfoSecurity to launch WomenThinkCode=, a three-year programme aimed at achieving gender parity on WeThinkCode_ campuses in Cape Town and Johannesburg by embarking on active steps to recruit more women, ensure their retention, and place them in tech jobs.
“The programme will be designed to inspire young women between the ages of 17 and 35 to join the WeThinkCode_ programme and support them to graduate and transition into a fulfilling and impactful career,” said Nyari Samushonga, chief executive officer (CEO) of WeThinkCode_. “Beyond this, our goal is to completely reshape the way our society sees the role of women in technology. We want to showcase women that are making waves in technology, build a community of allies around young women technologists and achieve gender parity in our programme and, ultimately, in the industry.”
The initiative aims to reach more women through alternative recruitment platforms such as NPO networks, mobile assessment units for use in townships, and direct contact with young women. It will retain more women in the programme by setting up a mentorship network that will support them throughout the programme.
The Momentum Metropolitan Foundation is a founding funder of this inclusion initiative and will sponsor 15 students in 2019 and 15 in 2020 to complete the training.