Vodacom has launched another installment of its inspiring #CodeLikeAGirl programme that will see 250 girls between the ages of 14 and 18 receive coding training from 03 -07 October 2022 in the Eastern Cape, Mpumalanga and Gauteng provinces.

Vodacom is also excited to welcome on board a new sponsor, Microsoft South Africa, sponsoring the programme to the tune of US$40 000, ensuring the programme reaches more school going girls who come from underprivileged backgrounds.

The Vodacom #CodeLikeAGirl programme is aimed at inspiring more girls to explore careers that require coding skills to help them get a start in the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) fields and industries.

Often referred to as the jobs of the future, STEM drives innovation, social wellbeing, inclusive growth, and sustainable development the world over.

Female participation is lagging in STEM fields in most countries. A report by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco), titled “Cracking the code: Girls’ and women’s education in STEM” indicated only 35% of STEM students in higher education globally are women.

Young women also comprise only 25% of students in engineering or information and communication technology (ICT).Njabulo Mashigo, Human Resources Director for Vodacom South Africa, says: “Women continue to be excluded from participating equally in STEM and ICT careers.

Reasons for this include lack of career opportunities, gender bias and role models to aspire to. Industry-supported initiatives like #CodeLikeAGirl therefore serve an important purpose in nurturing girls’ confidence in STEM, exposing them to women who are working in technology, and empowering them through education and coding skills.

By partnering with Microsoft South Africa, we aim to further increase representation in the technology sector, as more girls will be able to benefit from the life-changing programme.”“Computer coders have become a key part of countless industries, offering abundant career opportunities.

Microsoft is a company that is driven by a mission to empower every person and every organisation on the planet to achieve more. Our mission is inherently inclusive – without diversity we cannot succeed. Code Like a Girl provides girls with the confidence, tools, knowledge and support to enter and thrive in the world of coding,” says Martin Ndlovu, Skills Programme Manager, Microsoft Africa Transformation Office.

Coding is the process of transforming ideas, solutions, and instructions into the language that the computer can understand, using programming languages like JavaSctipt, Java, C/C++, or Python, to act as the translator between humans and machines.The “Code like a Girl” programme aims to develop not only coding skills but also valuable life skills for girls aged between 14-18 years and encourages them to consider careers in ICT and STEM.

It provides authoritative mentors for the girls to inspire them to be passionate about technology and its possibilities.During the week-long training course, pupils will be exposed to knowledge of computer languages, robotics and development programmes including Basic Computer and Introduction to Coding JavaScript and Python using the Microsoft MakeCode platform which brings the world of Computer Science to life for the students.

They will also be taken on a fun and empowering life skills journey while developing coding, presentation, and communication skills.At the end of the week, each girl will know how to develop her own gaming app around critical global topics such as global warming and present her work to the rest of the coding class.

The programme was first implemented in South Africa, Mozambique, Tanzania, DRC and Lesotho in 2017. In SA alone, since the programme was launched, Vodacom has trained over 4000 girls. It had its biggest intake in 2021, with over 1 000 pupils from eight provinces taking part.

This investment by Vodacom in digital skills training programmes for young women will help to narrow the gender digital divide at an early age in South Africa.

“The continued success of the programme since its launch is testament to the tremendous need to close the gender gap in STEM and equip young girls with the tools and technology to be leaders in the digital age.

By connecting more girls through #CodeLikeaGirl, we are helping to build a more digital, inclusive, sustainable future on this continent,” concludes Mashigo.