Women in Africa can help bridge the tech gender gap through this exciting new opportunity

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(Image: Getty Images)
(Image: Getty Images)

In many industries globally, there is an undisputed gender gap that exists – but it’s often seen highlighted in STEM industries. On a local level, the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report 2021, found that South Africa ranks 18th out of 156 countries regarding the gender gap as a whole.

While the above ranking seems like a win at face value, the reality is that as a country we ranked 69th for educational attainment and 92nd regarding economic participation and opportunity. This compounded with the fact that less than 13% of girls attain STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) skills compared to more than 27% of boys – SA still has quite a way to go to help close that gender gap – especially in the tech landscape.

Hoping to help bridge this gap and present more opportunities to women across Africa, leading technology education provider ALX Africa announced its first-ever all-female software engineering cohort in celebration of International Women’s Day (IWD) taking place on 8 March. This cohort was made a reality courtesy of a partnership between ALX and the Mastercard Foundation. Together, they aim to enable up to 50 000 women across the continent to be at the helm of the global tech revolution that will help transform the tech status quo.

Known for their work in partnership with visionary organisations to empower people in Africa and in other indigenous communities abroad to access dignified and fulfilling work, the Mastercard Foundation wants to help ALX to sponsor young women who meet the eligibility requirements the opportunity to be equipped with employable skills to enter high-growth career paths in the digital economy.

ALX already has an initiative dedicated toward women in the industry called ‘WomXn and Tech’ – which was inspired by the UN’s IWD theme of ‘DigitALL: Innovation and technology for gender equality’ – the new Mastercard Foundation collab cohort will form part of this initiative. ALX Africa hopes that this cohort will provide a launch pad for ALX attendees to kickstart their careers in one of the most thrilling and globally in-demand fields.

“The exclusively female software engineering cohort we are introducing helps to reduce this significant divide and empower women with the skills necessary to become software engineers,” says Vatiswa Gilivane, Activations Manager at ALX South Africa.

A lack of representation in tech underserves 50% of technology users who are women. Not being able to tap into 100% of the market potential in software engineering inevitably impacts and hampers innovation, as well as being able to proactively harness the talents of all South Africans.

While ALX Africa is already a champion for female inclusion, with 35% of their programmes geared toward women (double the global average), this new cohort aims to up the ante with 50% geared toward women.

“It is about encouraging young women in South Africa to embrace technology as a future career path. The investment ALX is making in this cohort reflects the potential we see in the country and provide a dynamic environment for women to see STEM as something that they can be part of,” says Gilivane.

The ALX all-women software engineering cohort plans to design solutions directed toward communities, cities, countries and even the virtual world. ALX strives to put these women at the forefront and on the frontlines of Africa’s trajectory into the 4th Industrial Revolution, empowering them with the skillset that will be vital to help drive the continent forward. Hoping to spark a collaborative environment that fosters growth through this cohort, ALX has ensured it has been designed to support the women from the start of their training straight through to their career journeys. They will form part of an exclusive and diverse community of technology professionals in The Room.

There’s no gatekeeping and any woman with a hunger to learn software engineering can apply as no prior experience or background in IT is required to learn and grow from the cohort. Applications for the ALX cohort opened on 15 February and closes on 15 March, with the cohort launching into action on 27 March. You can send through your applications and find more information on the cohort via the ALX website.

This post was sponsored by ALX and produced by Adspace Studio.

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