During the first weekend of Women’s Month, GirlCode hosted their fifth annual all-female Hackathon (#GirlCodeHack) across Durban, Cape Town and Johannesburg. #GirlCodeHack is a 48-hour hackathon dedicated to young, promising female developers looking to make a difference through technology.
The future is female was the feeling that Tarsus on Demand got when they attended the Johannesburg leg of the event, which took place at 22 on Sloane in Bryanston.
“The positive energy at the event was infectious, and it was inspiring to see the eager faces of all the young women ready to do great things. I was reminded of the importance of such initiatives and the difference they make in the lives of these women,” said Sharon Slaughter, Tarsus On Demand Marketing Co-Ordinator.
This year’s hackathon saw a total of 204 female developers from universities and the entry-level workforce take part in the two-day event with the hope of walking away with the grand prize: a trip to the Women In Tech conference that’s happening in Amsterdam this coming November.
The winning team, Lightbulbs, developed a data accumulation solution that utilised integrated devices to assess the soil quality in gardens and farms. The data is then shown on a website where the farmer or gardener can determine the best course of action.
“We were excited to take part as sponsors at this year’s #GirlCodeHack, especially in Women’s Month, because their mission to make a meaningful difference in the lives of young women through technology is aligned to our own. A quick look at the stats in terms of females in ICT and/or STEM indicates that we need to work to ensure that young women are exposed to these fields earlier in their lives,” added Slaughter.
In an article about the need for females in the ICT industry, the 2017 Global Gender Gap Report is quoted as saying that only 13% of SA graduates in the STEM fields are women, despite the country being ranked 19th out of 144 countries.
“Being one of the only guys at the hackathon, it was such an awesome experience to see a community with so much confidence in technology’s potential for solving global problems,” says Matthew McEnroe, Solutions Architect at Tarsus on Demand. “We love coding, and were very impressed with the tech skills on display; I look forward to seeing the future of the coding scene benefit from more female coders,” he added.
In addition to their trip to Amsterdam, these young ladies will also visit various top tech companies, as well as attend a Microsoft Technology Associate Certification course which will allow the girls to bring back learnings to the rest of the GirlCode community.
This year’s competition required the teams to build solutions that aimed to solve United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
“Tying this year’s competition to development goals was an important attraction for us because it’s about solving everyday, real-life problems through technology. Doing that is a brilliant way to cultivate a mindset of problem-solving and critical thinking, and that’s essential in any professional field,” says Slaughter.
Deputy Minister of Telecommunications and Postal Services, Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams, delivered a poignant opening address stating that “No country is better-placed than South Africa when it comes to including its women. Women are natural-born teachers and leaders. I want South Africa to be a place where we are able to use the technologies we are exposed to, to take advantage of the digital revolution. Working together, as sisters across provinces, we can improvise solutions that will help change the lives of people around us. Because, when you educate a woman, you educate a nation,” she said.