How dLab is empowering girls to #CodeLikeAGirl
There is a misconception that “STEM is for boys”. From a young age, girls are encouraged to do arts subjects, or business studies because science is “too hard” for them. Yes, women remain significantly underrepresented across all Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) studies and careers. But in reality, girls can code. For this reason, dLab started a program that would empower girls to do just that — #CodeLikeAGirl.
Started in 2019, the program has reached more than 700 girls in Arusha and Dar es Salaam. This year, the plan is to run #CodeLikeAGirl workshops in Dar es Salaam, Dodoma and Mwanza. In collaboration with Vodacom Tanzania and in celebration of women this month, dLab ran an extensive 4 – day training from 2-5 March in Dar es Salaam, for girls aged 14-18. The program aims at helping girls engage with the technology industry and encourage them to consider technology as a career path in the future.
Justina Gerald, 16, from Canossa Secondary School is one of those girls. At the end of the program, the 34 girls had to create websites in groups. Their projects had to address a specific cause. Justina’s group created “Chica’s World”, where girls could meet to discuss issues of concern to them. They won the first prize.
With excitement Justina said, “If someone told me four days ago that I would know how to make a website by the end of this, I wouldn’t believe them. I am glad to be part of this program. It has helped me get new skills in coding.” Justina went on to say that the program has also helped her improve her social skills. Learning how to work in teams was of great value to her.
Creating a network of girls who love science is one of the things the girls appreciated. Most of them have just finished their O-Level education and are waiting to join high school. All of them come from different schools. “One day when you are working in tech, you will need each other. So keep each other close,” said one of the facilitators.
What impressed Magreth Barnaba, 17 who just graduated from Great Lakes Secondary School is the fact that “A girl like me can create a website,” she said. “Sometimes we think that a person behind the make of a computer, a phone or any other gadget is a genius. But they are not. They are people like us. I realised my potential through this training and I want other girls to realise their abilities too,” she said.