Africa Teen Geeks, is launching a new flagship event to inspire 100 high school girls from disadvantaged communities to pursue careers in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). Sponsored by MMI Holdings and Apodytes, the inaugural Girl Geek Summit will take place from 28 to 29 June 2019 at the Momentum Headquarters in Centurion. It will bring together women leaders from Silicon Valley and South Africa to engage in speeches, panel discussions, one-to-one career coaching, and workshops around entrepreneurship.
Globally, the participation of women and girls in STEM is low, with women making up just 35 percent of all STEM students in higher education. In sub-Saharan Africa, only 30 percent of professionals in the sciences are women, according to a UNESCO study. “Prejudice and assumed stereotypes keep women of color, especially black women from pursuing and staying in STEM fields. Psychologically, stereotypes on black women’s intellect, cognitive abilities, and work ethic contribute to their lack of confidence in STEM. Girls interested in STEM are often told that they inherited a male brain. Our goal is to inspire these girls to dream big and realize their full potential.” said Lindiwe Matlali Founder of Africa Teen Geeks
“The gap starts at the basic education level. Only five percent of South African schools teach computer science, for example, and predominately in affluent urban areas,” says Lindiwe Matlali, founder and CEO of Africa Teen Geeks. “With more widespread, equal access to computer science, and female mentors and role models in STEM, we believe we can drastically change these numbers. This event is designed to get girls excited about careers in STEM, demystifying the industry, showing them the many opportunities that exist, and building confidence in their skills.”
Minette Norman, Vice President of Engineering Practice at Autodesk in Silicon Valley, will be delivering the keynote address. Norman, who has a long history of mentoring women, is also one of only five females in the whole of Silicon Valley to hold a technical position of this level.
“After thirty years in the software industry, I cannot accept that women remain such a small minority, that we do not hold at least half of the technical positions, that we are not equally represented in the C-suite or on boards. My mission is to change that. I want to inspire girls to build the pipeline and come fill the many positions we have open in our companies” says Norman
“MMI is proud to host the Geek Girl Summit as a further sign of commitment to uplift and enable ICT career for young females. As a female at an Exco level, I know the value that more female voices would add to our organization. As such we are excited to announce our initial commitment to sponsor 90 learners over the next year from disadvantaged communities to grow into our future tech engineers and young leaders,” said Ashlene Van der Colff Group Chief Operating Officer MMI
Other confirmed speakers include Iris Cupido CEO at SABC Foundation, Dr Zweli Mkhize patron at Africa Teen Geeks, Buti Manamela Deputy Minister Department of Higher Education, Science & Technology, Monica Ares Head of Technology Education at Facebook HQ in Silicon Valley and Gilberto Duarte Programme Manager Education for Justice Initiative at United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime in Vienna.
Eileen Brewer who is a Director at Symantec and MD of Golden Seeds a VC firm in Silicon Valley that invests in women-owned businesses will run a workshop with the girls on tech entrepreneurship, how to put together a pitch deck and an elevator pitch inspiring them to become entrepreneurs.
“Only 3 percent of women entrepreneurs start information and communications technology businesses, compared to 11 percent for men. We also know that only 10 percent of venture dollars globally between 2012 and 2017 went to startups with at least one woman founder. This workshop is aimed at sowing the seed for entrepreneurship to these girls while they are still young inspiring them to see themselves as future entrepreneurs,” said Matlali