How Tanzania is betting on coding to help close the gender gap in its tech sector
Every Saturday morning Hyasinta Luhanga, 18, squeezes into a room in the Majumba Sita neighborhood near Dar es Salaam’s international airport with more than two dozen girls. They’re there to learn how to code.
Luhanga is a participant in a program by social enterprise Apps & Girls, which aims to train future female programmers, and in doing so, hopefully close the gender gap in the nation’s technology industry. Even though almost equal (pdf) numbers of women and men enroll for science and technology courses in Tanzania, the unemployment rate of women in the field is more than twice that of men, recent research by the government shows.
This mimics global trends. Even nations that have dramatically closed gender gaps in education and labor force participation have struggled(pdf) to increase women’s participation in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields. For instance, women hold about 26% of computer and mathematical jobs in the US, slightly below the level in 1960. For a country like Tanzania, which has a promising, budding tech industry, solving this problem could be vital to its future.
Photo courtesy of Andrew Magill.