The Girls Who Code in Kampala

In a city like Kampala, It’s not common that you find a group of over 50 girls seated in one room in the name of programming. Not because they are
unable to, but because there exists a stereotype that programming is something
for the male gender. This rare occurance came true during the  just
concluded very first Rails Girls event held in Kampala Uganda that took place at the Outbox Hub on the 18th and 19th of Jan 2013, with a total of about 75 girls in attendance.These were both students and working class ladies. Organised by Thoughtworks Uganda a global IT
consultancy, the 1 days event saw many young tech enthusiastic girls around Kampala mainly members of  GirlGeeksKampala, who are passionate about programming come together to write code. The main focus was
ruby on Rails. It was a free event open to both novice and advanced programmers and was taking place in many major cities around the world. While speaking to Kathy Gettelfinger a Principal with
ThoughtWorks, She said that “bringing more women into the industry will create
better software”

Demistifying
society’s belief that WOMEN cannot program

Many
people still believe that girls or woman cannot reason technically worse still
program. This stereotype and belief has been attributed to the few numbers of
girls studying computer science, Artificial intelligence, software engineering
and any other technical related courses at high institutions of learning. The ways in which boys and girls are
socialized in Uganda right from Childhood, coupled with societal stereotypes
plays a key role in what children choose study in future. For instance as children,
boys are introduced to technology at a very tender age through the nature of
toys they are given eg, video games like WII, toy guns and many more
electronics, whereas majority girls are introduced to dolls and less tech
related toys.  The confidence of the boy
child is then built to interface easily with technology while that of the girl
has to be built as she grows up. This is just one example but several others exist. However,
over the past few years, this belief no longer ‘holds water’ as many girls just
like boys have continued to prove that they too can mentally achieve what their
male counterparts can in areas of Technology, engineering, medicine and other
science related fields which were once a province of the male gender.
A cross Section of Girls coding. Photo/Thoughtworks Uganda
What’s the progress in Uganda?

Where
as it’s true that there has been a lot of progress in trying to bridge the
gender digital divide in Uganda, it is so unfortunate that this progress is
mainly evident in Urban Uganda, Kampala to be more specific. The same is not
true for many rural girl children who continue to live by stereotypes and
societal perception. Over all in educations, the gender gap is being bridged. A
good example is the statistics for the upcoming 62nd Graduation of Makerere University, the biggest in Uganda and one of the best and popular in Africa.  with 53.3% of total graduates being male and 46.7% being female http://news.mak.ac.ug/documents/62ndgrad/Makerere-62nd-Graduation-Statistics.pdf.
A lot of effort is being put to bridge the gender digital divide in Uganda by
organisations and associations like GirGeekKampala, WOUGNET and WITU.  Girls and women must be encouraged to take up
tech courses and to use these skills and make a profession out of them if the
gender digital divide is too be bridged.

For more details of what transpired globally, please visit http://railsgirls.com/ 
For More Pictures; Please got to Thoughtworks Facebook Page

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  • One main thing I like here is the unique development from the women's side as there is the sentence "the biggest in Uganda and one of the best and popular in Africa. with 53.3% of total graduates being male and

    46.7% being female"

    One of the best thing that women empowerment is going and it will change this society…