Woman-only unit for tech academy

The Digital Academy is planning an all-female unit to foster more diversity in the local tech industry.

The academy is based in Johannesburg and offers a development workshop where candidates are required to build applications in a three month internship programme.

But despite focusing on previously disadvantaged candidates with its previous intakes, the academy has identified the need to involve more women in the tech industry.

“Our plan for the future is to have an all-female unit where just women learn how to code and write apps and software,” James Coetzee, co-founder and director of the Digital Academy told Fin24.

He added that the academy would facilitate women joining the programme.

“We’ve got 30% females in our academy and we’re trying to encourage females to apple and are a little more lenient on our acceptance offer to females because we believe we want to help empower and change that component of the industry.”

Diversity has emerged as a key issue at global tech companies. Search giant Google revealed that just 2% of its employees are black and 30% are women.

Facebook has 32% female employees and 2% black, hurting the company’s ambitions to grow in emerging markets.

The giant social network has announced an expansion of its Internet Basics programme focused on developing markets like SA.

“The basics are ultimately about us trying to pull together developers, entrepreneurs, start-ups, other like-minded individuals that are also passionate about building for the historically unconnected and trying to figure out a way to get people exposure to the internet,” says Ime Archibong, director of strategic partnerships at Facebook.

The programme is available in 29 African countries, including SA, where users can access weather, news and educational information.

The local tech industry needs to build access for more women said the Cape Innovation and Technology Initiative (CiTi), a Cape Town based non-profit.

“Our VeloCiTi Woman in Business programme is focused on getting female entrepreneurs to grow their business through the effective use of technology,” CiTi CEO Ian Merrington recently told Fin24.

For female tech entrepreneur Lynette Hundermark, more women will join the local tech industry when there are more visible role models.

“I think there’re not enough role models or publicity for women who are in this space.”

By Duncan Alfreds for www.fin24.com

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