WHILE South Africa may be scoring below the global average of 30 percent of women pursuing Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) careers, the country was still leading in Sub-Saharan Africa.
According to UNESCO, sub-Saharan Africa accounts for about 28 percent of women in STEM careers. South Africa has the highest share of female graduates in sub-Saharan Africa at 32 percent, and even more female ICT graduates, at 38 percent, according to a recent report.
Tech education provider HyperionDev said to help bridge the gender gap in STEM, its female intake for 2021 increased to 60 percent.
HyperionDev CEO Riaz Moola said that although the number of women in tech was improving in South Africa, there was still much to be done to minimise the barriers to entry, inspire girls to take STEM subjects, and help young women take advantage of the opportunities that the tech industry offers them.
‘Considering that the job landscape is constantly evolving in line with the digital economy, it is essential for girls and women to ensure they are educated and upskilled to ensure their jobs are future-proofed, especially in the face of disruptions such as Covid-19,’ said Moola.
Moola said giving women a competitive edge was vital, as they were the hardest hit during the first Covid-19 hard lockdown last year. Out of the 2.8 million jobs lost, two-thirds were women, according to the National Income Dynamics coronavirus Rapid Mobile Survey (NIDS-CRAM). He said, even so, the latest survey indicated that although many women had their jobs back, men had the highest re-employment rate.
Marianne de Vos, lead digital designer at HyperionDev said: ‘It becomes apparent in more informal social settings that there are still fundamentally prejudiced nuances embedded in conversations around women in tech. The under-representation of women then equates to a lack of female ICT role models to inspire girls at an age where parental control, peer pressure and self-esteem can heavily influence their career decisions.’
Moola said that accessible tech education was the future of social upliftment and mobility. He said coding was an essential language for many 21st century jobs, and was the perfect starting point for women and girls to grow their careers in tech.
‘Our coding boot camps give young women a fighting chance to become confident, job-ready developers in mere months, rather than years. We have hundreds of proven success stories of students who became professional developers and engineers shortly after graduating,’ he said.