Samsung South Africa and the University of the Western Cape (UWC) are on a mission to address research findings that indicate an imbalance of female representation in software development. According to a PwC report, 16 nudges for more #WomenInTech, women hold 19% of tech-related jobs at the top 10 global technology companies relative to men, who hold 81%. In leadership positions, women make up only 28%.
For these reasons, UWC and Samsung joined forces to establish the Samsung Future-Innovation Lab to address gender and diversity imbalances in the sector. The Samsung Future-Innovation Lab, a six-month programme that began in September 2019, aims to provide opportunities to previously disadvantaged youth, particularly women, to gain skills in software development and digital social innovation.
“As a university, we have placed the transformation agenda high on our list of priorities, and this should be filtered through to all activities that we engage in,” said Professor José Frantz, UWC Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Research and Innovation. “In order to address the gender imbalance in the ICT sector, we are focusing on recruitment of a cohort of young women keen on building careers in the software development industry for this next intake. We hope that in a small way this will contribute to addressing the imbalances that continue to be highlighted in various reports”.
“Diversity is critical in technology, as it enables companies to create better and safer products that take everyone into consideration, not just one section of society. As Samsung, we believe education is one of the most essential means of empowering women with the knowledge, skills and self-confidence necessary to participate fully in the software development process. This is why Samsung is focused on programmes that pave the way for a new generation of young women to fulfil their true potential. We have already seen the positive impact of greater female representation at Samsung, “says Hlubi Shivanda. Director: Business Innovation Group & Corporate Affairs, Samsung South Africa
The programme focuses on:
The development of software development skills and portfolios that can open doors to employment or further training;
The development of transferable skills and experience in digital social innovation and
The fostering of pathways into industry networks.
Aspiring and qualifying future female software developers are invited to the next programme, starting in February 2022. This programme consists of both foundational software development skills and digital social innovation skills to build solutions that matter.
“We develop skills to use digital technologies in a South African context to tackle challenges such as Youth Unemployment; Gender Inequality; Environmental Sustainability; Safety & Security; Health & Wellbeing; Early Childhood Education and other pressing societal challenges,” explained Wouter Grove, Manager: Future-Innovation Lab at UWC & Coordinator: Western Cape CoLab for Digital Inclusion & Social Innovation. Integrated in the process are innovative approaches to the creation of socially relevant technology solutions to societal challenges. The programme culminates in the Future-Innovation Challenge, where learners get the chance to compete for awesome prizes and get the chance to showcase their digital solutions”.
Former student Mikaela Gabriel described the programme as life-changing. “Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine an opportunity like this could happen to me. I have not only acquired a new skill set, but this course has also helped me grow in more ways than I ever knew I would. There were challenging days, but the entire world was going through those challenges with COVID-19. I have now learnt to never to give up.”
Another student, Tegwen Galant, added: “When I started this course, I was very anxious as I was trying to find my feet and make my mark in the technology world. It’s great to know this platform exists and will help ease unemployment.”
The qualifying criteria for the course:
Previously disadvantaged South African women aged between of 18 and 35
Availability for a full-time Course (Mon to Fri 08:30-16:30)
A matric certificate
A passion to work hard towards the goal of becoming a software developer
The Future-Innovation Lab’s next intake is open to 60 students, who will be supported with stipends. Interested youth are invited to submit applications by the 30th of November 2021. For more information and to apply, please visit the project website at: https://www.wcapecolab.org/future-innovation-lab