Johannesburg — MORE than 500 school-going female learners will in the coming days learn the language of coding as part of efforts to narrow the gender digital divide at an early age in South Africa.
The Code like a Girl training follows the realisation that 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.
Takalani Netshitenzhe, Chief Officer: Corporate Affairs at Vodacom, said in recent years, there had 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.
Netshitenzhe said the Code Like A Girl programme 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.
"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," she said.
At the end of the programme (June 24- July 5), each girl has to be able to develop her own website and present her work to the rest of the coding class.
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
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) recently expressed concern at the gender digital divide. UNESCO stated only 35 percent of STEM students in higher education globally are women.
Only 3 percent of female students in higher education choose ICT studies.
In South Africa, a few years ago, the Engineering Council of South Africa put the total number of women engineers registered with the body to 11 percent.
Matimba Mbungela, Chief Officer: Human Resources for Vodacom Group, said the world is standing on the cusp of a digital revolution that will reshape work, life and relations. The revolution is anticipated to have a tremendous impact on many academic disciplines.
"Therefore it was necessary for us as the country's leading digital telco to take it upon ourselves and launch this initiative to prepare young females, so they can adapt skills of the future and contribute in taking our economy forward," Mbungela said.
The programme was implemented in South Africa, Democratic Republic of Congo, Lesotho, Mozambique and Tanzania, with over 755 young girls trained in 2019.