It’s no secret that women are underrepresented in tech jobs worldwide. But in Africa it’s even worse. Whereas around 20% of software engineers in Silicon Valley are women, in African countries this percentage is as low as 2%. This vast underrepresentation of females in the African tech workforce is something Tunga founder Ernesto Spruyt decided to address. Since December Tunga is running a female-only coding class to increase the share of female coders in its talent pool.
According to Spruyt the program is a logical result of the company’s mission: “Tunga exists to create tech job opportunities for African youths, in particular for those that have less than average opportunities. Tunga is not about gender equality per se, but considering the numbers it does feel logical and right to make an extra effort to promote female participation in the tech sector here in Africa.”
“The current class is a pilot of 15 women, who already have a foundation of software programming skills. The goal of the program is to have them make the last step towards employability. We’ve developed the curriculum ourselves, but the course is being executed by our education partner Kampabits”, continues Spruyt. “The idea is that once graduated, they are ready to work on our platform. But they are not obliged, the course is free and without strings attached.”
The course itself takes 4 months of intensive training at the Kampabits facilities in Design Hub Kampala. The curriculum consists of roughly two tracks. Firstly, technical skills. The students specialize in both a frontend and a backend framework, working with them on real-life cases. Secondly, professional skills. The students get familiarized with the best practices of managing software projects. They learn to collaborate on version control systems like Github, to coordinate activities with issue trackers like JIRA and to use team communication tools like Slack.
“Most participants are familiar with many of the course elements, such as Github, one way or another. In this course we bring it all together. And more importantly, we introduce a way of working that will help them to adapt quickly when joining a professional team.”, concludes Spruyt.
When asked about the program’s ambitions, Spruyt assures this is not a one-off. “We want to take the lessons from this pilot to scale up the program. Therefore we will need to bring partners on board. I’m particularly looking for companies that commit to providing a traineeship, or a job for the graduated students once they are Tunga certified. The more commitment we have upfront, the more students we can enroll.”