GirlCode announces winners of its women-only hackathon

March 14, 2022 in Events, Training and development
 

GirlCode has announced the winners of its women-only hackathon, which encouraged teams to find solutions for workplace biases against women.

The GirlCodeHack took place in Johannesburg, at 22onSloane with 50 aspiring female developers participating in the event. GirlCode partnered with AWS, Mint Group, Takealot Group, DVT and Lenovo to host the event under the theme “Break the Bias” in celebration of International Women’s Day.

The objective of the hackathon, which is now in its eighth year and is more commonly referred to as GirlCodeHack, is to address the lack of women in the technology sector by allowing women to showcase their skills as part of an inclusive network of peers.

As well as building their skills, the hackathon aims to give participants more information about what it’s like to work as a software developer, and those who took part in the hackathon had access to mentors to talk about their experiences working in their roles and guide them throughout the weekend.

“Technology is becoming one of those things where everyone’s interested because it’s progressing and there are more jobs popping up in that sector,” says Zandile Mkwanazi, GirlCode CEO.

After the two-day challenge, a panel of judges which included Khetho Netsianda, AWS Cloud Support Associate; Riekert Strydom, Senior Developer for Mint Group, Ronnie Cloete, Executive for Software Development at DVT Software, Fozia Martin, Partner Account Manager at Lenovo and Kgotso Buys, Engineering director at Takealot Group chose the following winners from the submissions:

NTV’s winning project, a web application that will allow a company to register and get a “company code” for all their employees to use to remain anonymous when reporting biases they encounter within the company. The winning team NTV walked away with laptops, laptop bags, computer peripherals, software and R1 000 in Takealot vouchers.

Hack-Gen built a complaint logging system that allows employees to report incidences on bias. The system would then be able to provide real data on the type of biases their employees are facing and allow the HR department to implement relevant remedial programs. The team walked away with tablets, software and R500 in Takealot vouchers.

Hack Invasion Girls built a web application that anonymises job application processes which are inherently bias whether it be on the basis of gender, race, and even location, where candidates who live in townships might be overlooked in favour of those who live in urban areas. The team walked away with tablets, software and R250 Takealot vouchers

“Despite the progress that’s been made, when you walk into most IT departments, you will be greeted with predominately male faces,” says Mkwanazi.

“GirlCode started as a hackathon with the aim to not only show off the female tech talent we have in South Africa, but also to encourage young girls to consider a career in technology, and local companies to think about how they can support the development of women in tech. We have been supported by companies like Entelect and Boxfusion over the past 7 years and are motivated to keep creating such opportunities for young women in South Africa,” concludes Mkwanazi.

Woman in Tech of the Week: Fazlyn Petersen Petersen

November 29, 2021 in Profiles, Training and development, Woman of the Week, Women in Tech

Name:  Fazlyn Petersen Peterse

Designation: Senior Lecturer

Company: University of the Western Cape

What do you do every day?
I am a Senior Lecturer in the Information Systems (IS) Department at the University of Western Cape.

How did you get into the tech space?
I joined academia to train the next generation of IS professionals. I teach Information Systems Strategy and Enterprise Architecture. The rising levels of youth unemployment has made me focus on including entrepreneurship into my courses so that students have an alternative to finding employment in the formal sector. Students need to formulate a business idea using Design Thinking then create a Business Model Canvas as the first step towards their business plan. We need more female IS professionals and entrepreneurs to make a difference to the South African economy.

I honestly didn’t want to become an Accountant, Economist or Statistician so this major was chosen by order of elimination lol I’ve heard a saying, “Sometimes a dog chases the wrong squirrel up the right tree”. IS was my right tree even though I didn’t realise it at the beginning. It works to my strengths of problem solving and creative thinking.

What was the best advice anyone ever gave you?
Nothing is impossible, even the word says I’m possible 🙂

What advice would you given someone wanting to get into the tech sector?
When I started a degree in IS I wasn’t even computer literate and I didn’t own a computer. I had never used the internet before starting university. Now I have a PhD in Information Systems. I’m proof that with hard work you can achieve anything. Challenges help you grow and what doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger 🙂

What motivates you to get out of bed every day?
I can make a difference using technology to help make a difference. I can design for the inclusion of the marginalised.

Who do you want to be when you grow up?
I wanted to be a doctor and now I am but without the needles, blood and Covid.

Matric results: Perhaps it’s time to democratise how we assign competence

August 11, 2021 in CEO, Events, News, Opportunity, Training and development, Women in Tech

Nyari Samushonga, CEO at WeThinkCode_

Every year when South Africa announces its matric results the country goes into education discourse hyperdrive as analysts, politicians and the civil society attempt to make sense of the numbers. However, in our scurry to project meaning onto the milestone, it’s important to ask whether we are missing an opportunity to democratise how we assign competence, writes Nyari Samushonga, CEO at WeThinkCode_

As always, this year there has been acknowledgement of outstanding achievements in both the government and private school systems, coupled with questions about the national pass rate, bachelor’s pass, subject choices, and much more.

 Make no mistake, the country needs excellence and high achievement in Matric and other academic endeavours should be celebrated. It is right that we value impressive education behind neurosurgeons, legal minds, engineers, mothers, fathers, and more. However, in our milestone mindset, have we begun to shut the door too soon? Is it not a bit extreme to shut off access to future learning opportunities on the basis of how a young person performs on this single test? Are we too rigid in what we communicate to high school leavers about viable options for their futures?

It’s a minefield to traverse. Statistics SA’s unemployment figures have made it abundantly clear that youth unemployment levels are inversely proportional to the level of education. Graduates are the least unemployed, followed by those with some post-matric qualification and then those that just have a matric. Youth who don’t have a matric have statistical odds weighted strongly against them. It is to this woeful backdrop that we have, possibly unselfconsciously, developed an obsession with education milestones – as if they alone will solve our unsustainable and world-topping unemployment rate.

This could not be further from reality. This is perhaps most vividly demonstrated in a series of interactions WeThinkCode_ had recently with various stakeholders in our journey to develop an accredited bachelor’s degree programme, in addition to our accreditation, that we currently offer our students.

A sentiment we continue to encounter is this narrow view of the path one should take from high school to university to the workplace. Any professional will tell you that learning a craft is a lifelong journey and that much of their competence is acquired not in the classroom but on the job. Not just from the lecturer, but also from the many people you collaborate with as you do the work. And yet we continue to insist that a matric result alone is a fair and appropriate proxy for how well or how poorly a teenager will one day perform in a job.

We deem it sufficient to condemn scores of youths to a life of no access to further education. However, if we read that against a reality of only 37% of people that enter the education system passing matric and, worse, only 6% of South African adults holding a bachelor’s degree or higher qualification, it seems a stretch to feed the narrative that an academic endeavour is the only possible route to exiting the unemployment queue. Which begs the question, how do we begin to create a more inclusive perspective on competency without compromising its core concepts?

To be fair, following the traditional academic trajectory currently represents the best possible chance of securing a stable, employed future in South Africa. However, I’d argue that there needs to be a paradigm shift among all stakeholders when it comes to assigning competence within the workforce. This shift informs the core mission of our academy. We’re driven by the belief that talent can come from anywhere, that with the right opportunity that talent can thrive, and in the right environment that talent can acquire the tools and skills to be workplace ready. 

In addition to being a ladder towards developing professionals across fields, education should also be about preparing young people for the workplace, not just an exam. It should be about equipping young people to be productive. Passing or failing, six distinctions or an E average, present a milestone moment but they don’t accurately mark a measurable preparedness for employment.

Back to the matric class of 2021: Those that performed exceptionally will likely expect a smooth ride into their careers. Those that did not get university exemption, or those who didn’t pass, will likely believe their future is bleak.

The reality is that life becomes deliberately more difficult for people who failed or did poorly in matric. These young people will make up the majority of those that just get lost in the unemployment statistics. It’s no surprise that we, or even the young people themselves, believe they’ve missed the chance for a better life. However, as more institutions like ours create accessible and sustainable pathways to meaningful employment, my hope is that more young people realise that they have options. Options even after failing matric. Options even after passing matric and still not being able to pursue a particular degree due to limited resources, and options even after they’ve made it into their degree and things didn’t work out half way through for whatever reason.

So, how do various stakeholders begin to shift this paradigm? How do we practically and systematically expand perspectives of competence without compromising its true definition?

Corporate leaders, recruiters and team leads can become intentional about opening up their sourcing pools to slowly test the theory that competence isn’t necessarily a particular qualification from a particular institution. We’ve worked with a number of organisations over the years that have been incorporating WeThinkCode_ students into their graduate programmes to see first-hand how they perform against their university peers.

Secondary schools, particularly those within underserved communities and even private schools that have bursary programmes to take in students from underserved communities, can begin to expose students to their options by presenting them with non-traditional pathways. We partner with various schools and youth development programmes to mobilise talented youth within previously underestimated groups.

Lastly, and most ambitiously, perhaps the government, legislature and accreditation bodies can review new pathways that enable high school leavers to move forward towards meaningful employment despite not having matric qualifications. Although our programme at WeThinkCode_ is open to anyone between the ages of 17 and 35 with or without a matric, those that do not have matric gain the same skills on the programme but do not necessarily have access to the same work opportunities after the programme. Because of not having a matric, we are unable to give them the formal accreditation that the programme offers.

Of course, a paradigm shift like this is not the sole preserve of the IT or coding industry. It can, and should, be applied across a broad spectrum of society. There’s a strong argument to be made that while milestones are important metrics and measurement tools, a more holistic approach to developing a preparedness for a productive life should underpin all education.

This mindset is about restoring dignity. We tend to be punitive and one dimensional about milestones such as examinations and prescribe a “you are worthy” or “you are not worthy” badge.

Adopting this alternative mindset in no way undervalues the importance of quality basic and tertiary education. It is about broadening the criteria we use to ascribe competence and deciding who deserves a chance. There are a host of environmental factors that may or may not have contributed to a learner’s performance in a single exam. Let’s congratulate the achievers, work to improve education in all its guises, and honour the principle that everyone deserves a chance to be prepared for a productive life.

Huawei South Africa launches Women4Tech: Digital Skills Training for Women Entrepreneurs

August 11, 2021 in News, Opportunity, Training and development, Women in Tech

Huawei South Africa is calling on women entrepreneurs to apply for its digital skills training programme, Women4Tech. The free online course is open to savvy, tech-forward women entrepreneurs, and aims to advance their skills and help them use new technologies to grow, improve and digitise their businesses.

The training comprises of three courses, Cloud Computing and how it benefits SMME’s, digital marketing for business success, especially in an increasingly competitive online market space, and an introduction to App Development and a networking opportunity with award winning App Developers within the Huawei Mobile App ecosystem, and other successful women entrepreneurs.

“This Women’s Month we are proud to launch this campaign, to make women fundamentally more competitive in the digital economy. Women entrepreneurs and women-owned micro businesses traditionally play a critical role in South African society and by extension the economy. Our Women4Tech programme is designed to support these businesses through ICT knowledge sharing, facilitating digital transformation and business growth,” says Vanashree Govender: Media & Communications Manager, Huawei South Africa.

Participants in the training programme will each receive a free 6-month Huawei Cloud subscription.

The Digital Marketing course will be delivered by Musa Kalenga, a renowned entrepreneur, investor and author. “Over the last decade consumers have evolved in their need for information and the way they consume it. Technology has evolved to such an extent that the consumer context is now digital. The importance of digital marketing is that you can easily track and monitor how you reach, engage and convert consumers through strategic integrated communication,” says Kalenga.

The training is open to all women entrepreneurs, and they will be selected on several factors, including their readiness to adopt new technologies into their business. Women entrepreneurs interested in applying need to fill in a short application form. They will be contacted if selected to join the programme.

Training Dates:

  • Introduction to Cloud Computing: 16-18 August, 10:00-12:00
  • Digital Marketing: 24 August 09:00-15:00
  • Introduction to Mobile App Development & Networking Session: 25 August. 10:00-14:00

/ends

About Huawei 

Huawei is a leading global provider of information and communications technology (ICT) infrastructure and smart devices. With integrated solutions across four key domains – telecom networks, IT, smart devices, and cloud services – we are committed to bringing digital to every person, home and organisation for a fully connected, intelligent world. 

Huawei’s end-to-end portfolio of products, solutions and services are both competitive and secure. Through open collaboration with ecosystem partners, we create lasting value for our customers, working to empower people, enrich home life, and inspire innovation in organisations of all shapes and sizes. 

At Huawei, innovation focuses on customer needs. We invest heavily in basic research, concentrating on technological breakthroughs that drive the world forward. We have more than 180,000 employees, and we operate in more than 170 countries and regions. Founded in 1987, Huawei is a private company fully owned by its employees.

WeThinkCode_ seeks partners to place interns through its SME Placement Programme

November 23, 2020 in Developer, Opportunity, Technical, Training and development
A WeThinkCode_ class in action

WeThinkCode_ courses are free to students, no prior coding experience is required and a Matric is optional.

WeThinkCode_ is seeking small and medium company partners to join its SME Placement Programme, which places its students as interns in partner companies during their work placement period.  

 
The programme is aimed specifically at SMEs that need skilled junior software developers who can assist in-house technical staff during two work placements. An added advantage is that partner companies have first option to hire graduates on completion of their studies.
 
Students enter the SME Placement Programme with their tuition fees, valued at R100 000 per learner, already sponsored.  All the SME partner companies have to pay is the internship stipend. 
 
The programme is a win-win for both the SME, which needs additional resources for its digital projects and the students, who need vital on the job experience,” says Nyari Samushonga, CEO of WeThinkCode_.
 
Certain conditions apply: partners need to be registered companies with 250 or fewer employees and turnover of under R85-million a year. Partner companies must also have a senior technical resource to support the students. There are two internship periods during the course – three months from March to May of 2021 and four months from February to May, 2022. The stipulated internship stipend is R7 000 per month.  
 
The skill sets that a WeThinkCode_ intern brings to the business will enable them to add value, for example, in the following areas:
• Working with the existing software development teams to enhance and extend existing custom software, particularly if you have Python or Java codebases;
• Extend or write tests for your codebase;
• Write documentation;
• Investigate and experiment with new tools and technologies that the existing team may not have the capacity to do.
 
The students should be matched with a senior tech person in the company. Continuous learning is encouraged, with the peer-to-peer, practical, pedagogy ensuring that students are primed to pick up new programming languages quickly.
 
Full time employment for the current group of students begins on 1 June, 2022 and hosting SME partners have first right to hire on a minimum one year commitment after the student’s graduation at the end of the programme.
 
Each year, WeThinkCode_ trains 300 talented young South Africans to become highly skilled software developers in a two-year programme and the internship phases are an essential part of the course.  
 
“We are all about finding top talent, no matter where they are from or what they have done before. Our course is completely cost-free to students, no prior coding experience is required and a Matric is optional,” Samushonga says.
 
“We work closely with big players in the tech industry, many of whom are corporate sponsors and fund the programmes. In this way, WeThinkCode_ ensures that the training offered is up-to-the-minute by using cutting-edge technologies that solve today’s problems. The approach to facilitating the learning experience is dynamic and future-forward,” she adds.
 
WeThinkCode_ has an enviable record of success in training software programmers. “Our junior software developers have a 98% graduate employment rate, with our alumni working in more than 55 leading South African businesses at present,” Samushonga concludes.
 
Applications for interns close on 30 November 2020 on a first-come-first-serve basis. The matching process will kick off in December 2020 with interviews held in January, 2021. The first work placement will be from 1 March, 2021 to 31 May, 2021, and the second from 1 February, 2022 to 31 May, 2022.  Full-time employment begins on 1 June, 2022. 
 
For more information and to apply to join the SME Placement Programme, go to https://www.wethinkcode.co.za/sme-form

Sasol is offering young women bursaries to pursue STEM careers

March 6, 2020 in News, Training and development
Sasol Bursary recipients

Applications close 30 April

 Johannesburg, South Africa – According to UNESCO, less than 30 percent of the world’s scientific researchers and only 35 percent of students studying science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) in higher education are women.

“This is a startling statistic, but it also means there are incredible opportunities for women to enter the STEM fields at this exciting time, where technology continues to transform the way we live,” says Monica Luwes, Manager of Graduate Centre at Sasol Corporate Bursary Services, adding that career fields in STEM are regarded as the driving force behind technological transformation and innovation and will be among the highest-paying in the future.

Ahead of International Women’s Day 2020 on March 8, Sasol is encouraging young women to harness their potential by entering STEM fields thereby contributing to the development of much-needed critical skills in the country and to help grow the economy.

To support this next generation of female leaders and innovators in STEM, Sasol is offering and encouraging female learners to apply for its all-inclusive bursary programme that focuses on STEM-related courses at a tertiary level.

“Women are valuable to the world of STEM, and at Sasol we are proud to encourage and enable them to harness this potential giving them the opportunity to kick off and succeed in careers in these fields,” says Luwes. “There is no limit to what they can achieve and if we ignite the STEM spark in our young women, we help generations of women to come.”

Lehlogonolo Letshela, who is studying for a BSc in Chemical Engineering at the University of Cape Town through the Sasol bursary, was attracted to a career in STEM for the value it would bring to her life long-term, and her community. “I have always loved maths and science, and fortunately throughout my school life I’ve had teachers encouraging me to pursue these subjects,” says Letshela. “Young women need great mentors, and I’m hoping I can bring value to them and the community around me.”

Another bursary recipient, Zaina Abrahams, who is studying for a BEng in Mechanical at the University of Cape Town says that she’s always dreamed big of one day working in the science field, and thanks to Sasol, whose enabled her to pursue her dream. “Aside from offering just financial support, Sasol really offers a hand-in-hand ‘partnership’ through their bursar support programme,” said Abrahams. “From offering tutors, to making psychologists and specialists available when we need help, this bursary goes way beyond just the numbers, and enables us to harness our full potential.”

The Sasol bursary is open to learners who are planning to study towards a B Eng or BSc Eng in various engineering disciplines or for a BSc in Chemistry, Geology or Metallurgy. The bursary covers tuition fees, accommodation, meals, textbooks and pocket money. Bursars also receive allowances for study tools such as laptops and calculators, and financial and career assistance as part of the Graduate Development Programme.

To apply:

Applications close 30 April 2020.

Woman in Tech of the Week: Lindiwe Matlali

May 14, 2018 in Brand Manager, CEO, Entrepreneur, Founder, Profiles, Training and development, Woman of the Week

Woman in Tech of the Week: Lindiwe Matlali

Name: Lindiwe Matlali

Designation: Chief Executive Officer

Company: Africa Teen Geeks

What do you do every day? I spend an hour or two every day keeping up with tech news on Techcrunch and MIT Tech Review.  Staying informed is very important.  “I also make a list of the top three things I must get done each day.  I also make a list of the three things that must be achieved each month and each week to ensure that we remain focused and committed to our strategic goals.

How did you get into the tech space? I didn’t study technology at University. I got involved in tech because I saw the need to expose children from disadvantaged communities to tech not only as consumers but as creators too. I believe that the difference between a child born in Sandton and a child born in Diepsloot is lack of opportunity not intelligence. My passion is to close the opportunity gap and hopefully inspire the next Mark Shuttleworth or Elon Musk.

What was the best advice anyone ever gave you? My grandfather told me to never compare my weakness to other people’s strength. Consistency can achieve more than intelligence. I need both to succeed.

What advice would you given someone wanting to get into the tech sector? My advice for anybody wanting to get into the tech sector is to just do it. There are may free resources now available for one to learn how to code from Edx, cousera and others. All it takes is commitment and determination. In as little as three months you can be a software engineer. 

What motivates you to get out of bed everyday? I am motivated by the impact we have made so far. We have children who before joining ATG had never touched a computer but now are writing a Java code and coding robots. They now have dreams to be the next Mark Shuttleworths. Instead of looking up to celebrities, they now have raised their aspirations and see themselves as the youth who could change the world one day. That for me is what inspires me and help me get up in the morning even when things are tough. Knowing that in my small way, I am making a difference.

Who do you want to be when you grow up? I would like to teach one day. I am furthering my studies torwards my dream of becoming a University lecturer within the next 5 years.

Twitter: @LindiweEM

Blog: https://medium.com/@lindimatlali

LinkedIn Profile: https://www.linkedin.com/in/lindiwematlali/

 

Do you know an inspirational women in tech? Please get in touch with Robyn (robyn@kato.global) to get her featured!

Do you want to sponsor Women in Tech ZA (our research, website and events around South Africa)? Please get in touch with Robyn (robyn@kato.global).

Do you want to advertise to the  Women in Tech ZA network? Please get in touch with Robyn (robyn@kato.global).

Applications for MEST Class of 2019 close February 15 in South Africa

February 13, 2018 in Training and development

Applications for MEST Africa‘s fully sponsored 1-year entrepreneurial training program are closing for aspiring South African entrepreneurs on 15th February. Interested applicants have three more days to apply to join the class of 2019 and build global tech businesses alongside successful graduates like Qisimah’s Sakhile Xulu.

Following the graduation of its first cohort of South African Entrepreneurs-in-training (EITs) in August 2017, MEST Africa launched an incubator space in Cape Town, South Africa, and Lagos, Nigeria, in November 2017, in an effort to further solidify its presence in key markets for tech and entrepreneurial talent on the continent.

Today, MEST accepts EITs from Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya, South Africa and Cote d’Ivoire, all of whom come together for a 1-year intensive training program in Accra, Ghana, with a goal of building globally successful software companies and joining the Pan-African network of MEST incubators to further grow their businesses.

“We’re extremely excited to continue to show our commitment to the South African market with the launch of our new incubator space and the 2018 ZA recruitment drive. Cape Town is certainly home to an enormous amount of ambitious tech talent with massive potential, and we are working towards delivering access to opportunities for startups and entrepreneurs from across the region,” said MEST Managing Director Aaron Fu. “Through our pan-African training program, we want to enable the collaboration and interaction and thus make trans-Africa startups happen more.”

Successful applicants will spend a year at MEST HQ in Accra starting from August 2018, taking part in an intensive entrepreneurial training program centred around business, communications and software development. Training includes extensive hands-on project work and the opportunity to be mentored by successful entrepreneurs, CEO’s and other executives from all over Silicon Valley and Europe. The program culminates in a final pitch and the chance to receive seed investment and grow a tech business as part of the Pan-African network of MEST incubators in Lagos, Accra, Nairobi and Cape Town. Applications for South Africa close February 15, 2018.

Since inception, MEST has invested over $20million in training more than 400 individual entrepreneurs and invested in 40+ technology companies from across Africa. MEST entrepreneurs have developed solutions addressing local, regional and global markets, received follow-on funding from global investors, and gotten into top accelerator programs such as Y-combinator, 500 startups and TechStars.

To learn more about the MEST offering and what makes an ideal candidate, visit http://meltwater.org/get-involved/become-an-eit/

Application Process: