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More girls participate in key STEM-ICT talent search

Staff Writer
By Staff Writer, ITWeb
Johannesburg, 30 Mar 2023
Admire Gwanzura, president of the IITPSA.
Admire Gwanzura, president of the IITPSA.

More girls than boys participated in the Institute of Information Technology Professionals South Africa’s (IITPSA’s) Computer Olympiad Talent Search for the second consecutive year.

This is the word from IITPSA president Admire Gwanzura, remarking on participants in this year’s schools talent search challenge.

This year, over 16 700 learners from 174 schools nationwide participated in the challenge, says the IITPSA, with girls slightly outnumbering boys overall in Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo, Mpumalanga and Western Cape.

The Eastern Cape saw a noteworthy 50% increase in the number of girls participating compared to last year, it adds.

Gwanzura notes the increase in the number of girls participating is encouraging, since certain science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields, and the ICT sector in particular, have long sought to close gender gaps in the workplace.

“The IITPSA and many other organisations have been encouraging girls and young women to consider careers in STEM-ICT for years. In some regions, girls and young women appeared hesitant to enter these sectors. However, we now see a strong cohort of girls embracing STEM-ICT, which bodes well for our future skills pipeline.”

The talent search, a challenge run by the Computer Olympiad, which is an IITPSA programme, is for school learners of all ages. It is designed to help them develop the problem-solving and computational abilities they need for all STEM-ICT subjects.

It is the South African version of the Bebras Contest, which attracts over two million participants from more than 50 countries across the globe each year.

Locally, the talent search is a free programme that can be undertaken either online or offline. The challenge is a series of puzzles tailored by age and grade, with five categories for learners ranging from Grade 4 Elementary to Grade 12 and Elite level.

Schools interested in participating in next year’s talent search can browse the frequently asked questions here.