Gender parity in the tech industry continues to pose a significant challenge for women worldwide, and the situation is even more concerning in South Africa. According to Women in Tech ZA, only 23% of tech jobs in South Africa are held by women. However, a non-profit organization called GirlCode is making remarkable strides in increasing women’s participation in the ICT sector.
GirlCode has set an ambitious goal of empowering 10 million women and girls with tech skills by 2030. One of their key initiatives is an annual Hackathon, scheduled to take place on August 5 and 6, 2023, in Johannesburg, Durban, and Cape Town, under the theme “AI 4 Women.”
The Hackathon brings together computer programmers and other tech professionals, including graphic designers, interface designers, and project managers, to collaborate and develop software projects. The event is open to women in their first to fourth years of IT-related studies, fostering a competitive, cooperative, and inclusive environment for talented female tech enthusiasts.
Tapiwa Muza, from GirlCode, stresses that the Hackathon serves as a valuable learning space, inspiring young girls to develop an interest and passion for coding early on. The organization believes that encouraging young girls to pursue science, technology, engineering, and maths fields is crucial in addressing the gender gap in ICT careers. This will lead to more opportunities for women to thrive in the technology industry and prepare them for the challenges of the future’s 4IR-focused workplace.
Previous participants have praised the Hackathon for not only being an enjoyable experience but also for setting them on the path to achieving their tech-related dreams. Tracy Lethoko, a winner from the 2022 event and currently a Java Development intern at FNB, attests to the competition’s impact in empowering women with the skills they need to succeed in a male-dominated industry.
The support from sponsors like Vuma has been vital in driving these initiatives. Vuma, a gold sponsor and long-time supporter of GirlCode since 2019, recognizes the importance of bridging the digital divide, especially in terms of gender equality. Their commitment to closing the digital access gap aligns perfectly with the GirlCode Hackathon’s mission, and they are proud to be associated with this transformative initiative for the third consecutive year.