The Cortex Hub, a technology incubator, research lab and entrepreneurial hub in East London’s Industrial Development Zone, has announced it will hold a 72-hour women’s hackathon from 25 to 27 August.
The WomenHackersUnite Hackathon is aimed at showcasing the talents of women in software development, and encouraging them to become involved in the world of technology through the creation of solutions using technology.
The hackathon is expected to attract over 100 women from across Africa who are currently studying computer science, who are already in a technology-related field, as well as women who are software developers by profession.
Teams comprising up to five women will spend the first 24 hours coming up with solutions affecting societal problems and women today.
Solutions may, for example include child development, women’s health, work-life-business balance, assisting rural women to upskill, and even ways to help more women become scientists. The only criteria is that technology must be part of the solution. During the next 48 hours, participants will be coding and developing solutions to the problems that affect all types of women.
A panel of judges including three top women software engineers from Facebook, will vote on which team creates the best solution. Delegates will by vying for a prize of R150,000.
Running alongside the hackathon on 26 and 27 August is a conference targeted at career-focused women. The keynote speakers will include Veronica Motloutsi, Vodacom’s head of online and Self- International Markets Service and will cover topics focusing on:
* How to use social media to address inequality;
* Bridging the gender divide; and
* Leadership in the connected world we live in.
In addition, the two-day event will cover over 12 other burning topics on women today. Highlights include how women can utilize science and technology to tackle global problems in women’s health; technology’s role in maintaining a healthy lifestyle; and social impact investing.
A March 2015 article in the Huffington Post stated that the percentage of computing jobs held by women in the US has fallen over the past 23 years, according to a new study by the American Association of University Women, a non-profit that promotes gender equality. In 2013, just 26% of computing jobs in the US were held by women, down from 35% in 1990. During that same period, the number of women earning computing degrees also declined.
According to the Huffington Post, women make up 30% of the company’s overall workforce, but hold only 17% of the company’s tech jobs. At Facebook, 15% of tech roles are staffed by women. At Twitter, it’s a low 10%.
Sivu Ngcaba, organiser of WomenHackersUnite Hackathon, says: “While there are no recent formal statistics available, it’s well known that in Africa, the number of women in ICT is significantly low. The Cortex Hub assists bright young minds to establish their own businesses in the ICT space. That was the main driver for the hackathon. We also wanted the Hackathon to coincide with Women’s Month.”