IITPSA’s Senele Goba accepted into US TechWomen programme
SA ICT entrepreneur and educator to participate in international development initiative.
Senele Goba, Director of 4IR Innovations, founder of Ososayensi Education Advancement NPO and non-executive director of the Institute of Information Technology Professionals South Africa (IITPSA), has been awarded a place in a US State Department TechWomen programme for 2020.
TechWomen is an international programme that aims to empower, connect and support the next generation of women leaders in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). Launched in 2011, TechWomen is an initiative of the US Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) and is managed by the Institute of International Education (IIE).
Goba says she has been informed that this year’s programme attracted over 3 900 nominations and applications from around the world. “I am very excited to be one of the 108 women awarded a place in the programme,” she says. “It encompasses mentorship and networking on virtual platforms as well as a five-week visit to Silicon Valley in the US next year.”
Goba hopes the programme will help her expand her efforts to boost interest in STEM and ICT at school level, through her Ososayensi Education Advancement non-profit programme and her participation in the IITPSA KwaZulu-Natal chapter board and national board.
Ososayensi Education Advancement is a community development NPC aimed at exposing young learners to STEM and the beneficial use of science, technology and innovation to increase their chances of successfully pursuing technology-related careers.
Says Goba: “To date, I have been involved at a local level, but I have bigger dreams for the organisation. I hope the TechWomen programme will help me expand the reach of our initiatives, secure collaboration and mentorship, and – hopefully – some donors to help fund this education advancement.”
She notes that girls and young women need additional support and encouragement to enter STEM and ICT fields. “I have noted in my work with young learners in programmes such as coding and innovation workshops that there is a lack of information on careers in STEM and ICT – particularly in disadvantaged areas. Many of these learners are not aware of the opportunities, as a result they don’t even consider they could become producers rather than consumers of solutions,” she says.
“STEM and ICT are also often seen as something boys will do, rather than girls. Unfortunately, many influencers such as teachers and parents have the same views – that boys do better in science, technology and maths – so they encourage more boys into the field. Interestingly, in our coding classes last year, we ended up with 85 - 90% girls and just a few boys in the class, which shows it’s not that girls don’t want to get involved – they do, and they do very well.”
As a mother of boys herself, Goba says boys should not be left out of STEM and ICT development efforts, however. “We just need to level the playing field,” she says.
Goba, recently elected as a non-executive Director of the IITPSA nationally, also hopes to contribute her passion for education and development to the IITPSA’s work. “I hope to get involved in the wonderful development programmes IITPSA has, including the Computer Olympiad, empowerment of girls and women in ICT and the continued professional development of IITPSA members. Career development is an important strategic objective within the institute, since times are changing and all members need to keep growing ourselves to remain relevant.”