Across WeThinkCode_’s campuses, there is a marked increase in the number of young women, many of them drawn from demographics that have not previously enjoyed access to the digital sector.
Samushonga believes that WeThinkCode_ is creating a replicable blueprint to counteract the structural exclusion that women in the tech sector have traditionally faced.
Gender parity milestone
From a low of 6% women in its first intake in 2016, WeThinkCode reached 17% in 2019. The WomenThinkCode= initiative was launched in 2019 to drive the recruitment of women and increase their retention within the programme. This year, the academy will welcome 233 women onto its campuses in Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town. This milestone of gender parity is worth celebrating given the historical bias towards male recruits.
“The Covid 19 pandemic has accelerated the rate at which our world is being digitised. Because of the far-reaching influence of technology, captains of the industry now concede that no matter what business you are in, you’re also in the tech business,” Samushonga says.
“With today’s world being shaped by technology, it is imperative that the hearts and minds that build that technology should be fully representative of our world’s citizens. This is why we believe in the inclusion of women in tech,” she adds.
Rocking industry perceptions
In 2019, WeThinkCode_ launched its WomenThinkCode= initiative. Samushonga explains: “ WomenThinkCode=’s objectives are to increase women’s participation in the WeThinkCode_ programme, to ensure retention during the two years and to make sure our women graduates get good jobs.
“With help from our partners, there’s no doubt we’re proving that women are more than up to the job. How we are rocking the industry can be seen in the results – to get to 50% women representation through the WomenThinkCode= programme in just 18 months means we are speaking the right language and women are hearing us! This makes us extremely excited about the future.”
Re-coding the future
“We are re-coding the future and the way society sees the role of women in technology. We want women to blaze a trail in ICT and to do that we have built a supportive community around our female students. All second-year students are mentored by industry experts. This helps support their transition from the learning environment to the workplace.”
“Partnerships are also very important in our quest to grow gender parity,” adds Samushonga, “The underrepresentation of women in any space is not an accident, it is a choice. Our choice is to include women. We are privileged to partner with organisations that are sponsoring positive transformation in the digital sector.”
Attitude and aptitude
So many South African women with the aptitude and attitude to succeed have had doors closed to them. This is where WeThinkCode_’s unique recruitment process is a game-changer. The academy’s selection tests are designed to identify high performing youth regardless of their prior education results.
Applicants are assessed for logic, analytical skills, teamwork and resilience. Focusing on traits that correlate to success in the training programme and disregarding traditional selection models like matric results has been key to inclusive recruitment.