For some years now, people in the tech industry have been concerned about the few number of women in the industry. Although the situation has greatly improved, there is much more to be done. Tech giant General Electric has decided to take the bull by the horns in this regard and is now training girls who come from underprivileged homes on how to code. Afromum caught up with Faith Muia who is in charge of the project fo an interview and more insight.
- What is the “She Can Code Challenge”?
She Can Code is an initiative aiming to bridge the tech skills gap by inspiring girls to enter and remain in tech.
- Who is participating in this initiative?
Girls between the ages of 12-18 from Nairobi Eastland’s area
3.What are the objectives or expected outcomes of this initiative?
- Expose young girls in underserved areas to view coding as a 21st century vital life skill
- Engage young girls how they can take up coding as a careers and how they can use coding to solve problems in their communities
- When did the She Can Code start?
The November 24th challenge with Safe Spaces was the inaugural edition of She Can Code initiative. We plan to have similar activities in the future with different groups.
- Why did you decide to be a part of the initiative?
GE is keen to foster interest and proficiency for STEM in young girls and help them fully understand the academic and career opportunities available to them, create a future talent pipeline for GE’s digital transformation journey and also overall support GE balancing the equation objective of 20000 by 2020.
- There is an obvious skills gap in tech how has this affected your company?
Earlier this year, GE announced its Balancing the Equation is a commitment in GE seeks to increase the number of women in engineering, digital, manufacturing and product management roles by 2020, a strategy GE believes is necessary to inject urgency into addressing the ongoing gender imbalance in technical fields and fully transform into a digital industrial company.
7.Tell us about GE’s Women Network (How long has it been in existence and what have been some of your achievements and challenges?
GE’s Women’s Network (GEWN) was created in 1997 to help the women working at GE advance their careers and the company’s business. The Women’s Network is all about growth. It exists for the more than 100,000 women working at GE across the globe to cultivate their leadership skills, business practices, personal contacts and career opportunities.
By engaging and developing our membership in areas such as technology and sales, we are working to provide the growth leaders who will ensure GE’s success going forward. Today the rapidly growing Women’s Network has evolved into a worldwide organization of over 150 Hubs (Chapters) in 43 countries helping thousands of women around the world. In Africa, we have 700 members across 14 countries Kenya being the hub for East Africa.
- 8. Why do you choose to work with underprivileged girls?
Because they lack access and means to opportunities such as She Can Code yet they’re talented and have what it takes to provide solutions to day to day challenges through coding.
- WHY and HOW coding is changing today’s digital-driven society.
We’re living in the Fourth Industrial Revolution in which Digital Transformation is changing the way we work, live and relate with each other, bridging the gaps between humans, internet and the physical world.
Coding is key in this age.
10.What did you observe from the Safe Space Campus in Nairobi’s Eastland’s area
The girls are very enthusiastic and hungry for knowledge, all they need is an opportunity to prove their capabilities.
- From your experience at the mete, what are the gaps that still need to be addressed as far as the girls are concerned?
Other than coding opportunities, the girls also need to be trained and given leadership opportunities to prepare them for leaders of today and tomorrow. This could be through training other girls from their coding experience, interning in leading tech organizations to learn firsthand, and serving in boards to share their views on matters affecting the girl child in the tech space.
- Is this an annual event?
This is a long-term plan for GE and we will be doing this on a quarterly basis to continue empowering young girls to take up STEM-related subjects, expose them to new opportunities in technology, teach the girls on how technology can solve problems in their community and continue challenging them to begin their journey on coding.
- How can other girls join this initiative?
We will be announcing future coding challenges and other initiatives once dates have been confirmed in 2018
- How long does it last?
She Can Code is a day’s event with a tight schedule.
- Are there any other initiatives that you will be holding in this regard?
GE partnered with Safaricom WIT earlier this year in their high school outreach program aimed at demystifying Technology by exposing Girls to the Real Tech-World and trying to help them make Technology courses & Career Options.
We also had a mentoring session with ladies from Akirachix where GE women shared career and life experiences around STEM and also engaged them in a career coaching session. We also attended a Young scientist Kenya(YSK) STEM stakeholders meeting and we will work with them to recruits volunteers, mentors and researchers ahead of the competition next year.
GEWN in partnership with GE IT4C (IT for charity) recently also donated 10 laptops using a criteria established by Akirachix to the graduating students as a sustainability plan for the young women from poor social and economic backgrounds to help create self-employment and also close the digital divide among underserved students and families. A computer means an education, a home, a job
Next year we will be having a couple of activities i.e. High school outreach programs, mentoring sessions, design thinking workshops and hackathons, coding challenges etc