New programme targets more women coders
Local coding academy WeThinkCode has unveiled its WomenThinkCode= initiative in partnership with the Momentum Metropolitan Foundation and MWR InfoSecurity.
Speaking at the launch event in Sandton, Johannesburg, this morning, WeThinkCode’s Cape Town campus manager, Ruvimbo Gwatirisa, explained that WomenThinkCode= came about with the main objective to overcome the gender disparity in technical roles within industry.
Gwatirisa indicated that one of their biggest hurdles is getting the gender parity right and ensuring the same number of women as men within the programme.
She continued to say WeThinkCode finds that female representation is declining over time. Therefore, it was crucial for the coding academy, which is founded and led by women, to have an initiative to inspire, train and retain more women in its programme.
“What our messaging has shown us is that we manage to get a lot of men within the room but a lot of women don’t necessarily apply.
“Looking at some of our stats over the last few years, we realised that 38% of our applicants are women but by the time they are selected into the programme, we only select about 16%, and by the time of graduation after two years, only 10% are women.”
WeThinkCode was launched in SA in 2015 and welcomed its first coding students in May 2016. It seeks to eliminate the skills shortage by developing 100 000 coders in Africa over the next 10 years.
Gwatirisa explained: “We started with the intention to recruit some of our top talent and introduce them into a world of tech where they can become career professionals within industry.
“Bringing them on board and into the programme, we managed to get a lot of students in who then embark on a peer-to-peer learning environment and within it, they learn different tech styles. From there, we are able to place them within different organisations and companies.”
WomenThinkCode= will be a three-year programme, and Momentum Metropolitan Foundation and MWR InfoSecurity have joined as the sponsorships of the initiative during this period, according to Gwatirisa.
“Together we are going to try and make sure that we are communicating the right messages that get women on board, as well to try and make sure that students become a part of this initiative knowing that they can be leaders within tech.”
Gwatirisa listed the three main objectives WomenThinkCode= looks to achieve over the next three years:
*To increase the participation of women in the WeThinkCode programme.
*To ensure retention during the two years.
*To ensure successful absorption into industry.
“Within three years, we are looking at raising the level of female recruitment from 38% to 50%...and raising placement from 10% in 2019 to 50% in 2023.
“With the WomenThinkCode= intervention, we hope to have sustained improvement in diversity throughout the value chain,” she concluded.