This was evident when a group of teenage girls from across the province gathered at the Momentum head office in Centurion to create an app to assist former drug addicts to stay on track with their road to recovery.
This was among some of the activities and inspirational talks given by women working in the field of Stem which the teens attended at the weekend.
Eugene Brockman, technical talent manager for MMI Holdings, said that with contacts in the hi-tech industry, they decided to host the 1st Geek Girl summit for a 100 young girls to experience corporate life from a tech point of view.
Brockman said few of them saw Stem as a viable career path, and they wanted to change this perspective so they would be ready for future careers that were yet to be discovered.
“There is gross under-representation of women in Stem with global statistics reporting only 35% in tech careers, and only 5.8% being developers in comparison to their male counterparts.
“It’s not that there is no interest; the girls are keen but it’s society’s idea on what women and girls should do that could be holding them back, which is unwise, as we don’t even know what 65% of the world’s jobs are going to be any more; an ability to code is the ticket to the game.”
Lindiwe Matlali, founder and chief executive of Africa Teen Geeks, said her organisation was passionate about raising the next generation of Africa’s tech-entrepreneurs and innovators, hence they were happy to collaborate in the summit.
She added that her organisation ran their own initiatives through Saturday classes at Unisa campuses across the country.
Matlali said the focus on girls was because of the glaring gender gap in Stem, which was why they brought in girls from a young age.
This was also to give them early exposure – even before they had decided on a career – to Stem, which could become a possible choice of career for them.
It would also make them feel comfortable in an area which was still predominantly male-dominated, Matlali added.
“We want them to know they don’t have to act like a man to fit in.
“We want them to be feminine and know that they belong in Stem even if they are pretty and have their nails done.
“They don’t have to change to be in the engineering sector.
“Just as they are excited about fashion, we want them to be excited about being smart and for them to be the Slay Queens of Stem.”