South African women break coding gender stereotypes

first_imgSeveral South African women have made it their mission to change the perception that the tech industry is a place only for men. They started initiatives to teach girls about coding and inspire them to become innovators.Thembiso Magajana, founder of Social Coding, says if you teach one girl to code she will teach 22 more because women are, by nature, change agents. “By doing so, we’ll solidify the economy of our nation for years to come.” (Images supplied)Melissa JavanHer journey to teach girls about computer programming languages started with four girls, one laptop and a whole lot of faith, said Thembiso Magajana, who founded Social Coding ZA in May 2016.Magajana started this initiative with the daughters of her older friends. “I’d teach them Scratch 2.0 on the verandah and sometimes it would take the entire day to teach them because we only had one laptop between us.” Scratch is a free educational programming language developed by the Lifelong Kindergarten Group.“Those times were frustrating because we didn’t have wifi, so when we ran out of data, we’d be stuck and could not continue learning because a lot of the tools I used to teach them were online.“One Saturday, one of the girls was so frustrated with having to wait till I was done teaching one girl with the laptop before I got to her, that she decided she’d ‘build’ a computer interface using cardboard and magazine cut outs,” explained Magajana, who has an accounting background.“That was the proudest moment of my life because it showed that they were learning how to make the best out of exhausted resources. That’s when I knew that innovation was something that could be taught.”Magajana’s initiative, Social Coding, is one of several in the country that focuses on teaching girls computer programming. Together, they upend the stereotype that tech is for geeky boys, encouraging girls to get into the IT industry.According to online news platform MyBroadband, software developers have been in high demand for the past year. Top of CareerJunction’s “most wanted skills” list were developers in the programming languages Java, C#, and .Net.MyBroadband also reported that Philip Joubert, co-founder of OfferZen, which specialises in matching developers with companies, said there were significant skills shortages for languages such as Ruby, Go and Scala.“We’ve also seen that companies are struggling to find front-end developers. Front-end development has become a much more important aspect of software development in the past few years,” Joubert told MyBroadband.“Frameworks such as React and Angular allow you to build interfaces which weren’t possible before, and companies are eager to find developers who can do that. The shortage is probably also linked to the fact that most universities and colleges focus on back-end technologies.”Melissa Javan spoke to Magajana and several other women who have set up coding initiatives for girls in South Africa.Social CodingSocial Coding was at the premiere of the movie, Hidden Figures. Founder Thembiso Magajana says the free screening for 118 girls is a partnership between Social Coding and Cinema Nouveau in Brooklyn. “We had some of our girls in the programme speak to the audience about how coding has changed their lives.” Magajana (middle) is pictured with two Social Coding volunteers, Oria Kopa (left) and Kele Shole (right).Melissa Javan: Why did you start Social Coding?Thembiso Magajana: I started this for my niece, Leano (now seven years old). I wanted her to have a safe place to nurture her interest in technology and entrepreneurship. Three months into running Social Coding, I realised that this was bigger than just my niece and our backyard. I wanted every young girl to have this space – an incubator that encouraged and grew their curiosity.MJ: What does Social Coding do?TM: Our technical workshops cover six modules such as software development fundamentals, design thinking, business models and fundraising over the course of the year. Social Coding workshops are designed to teach girls to be initiators, conceptualists, shapers and drivers of innovative and strategic problem-solving.MJ: How old are the girls who are part of your initiative?TM: We generally have girls between 14 and 18 years old but we have one who is eight years old. I believe we can go even younger.MJ: Where do they come from?TM: Mostly Gauteng — we work with girls from the Pretoria CBD and Mamelodi. We’re looking into expanding into Johannesburg next year.MJ: How do you explain to young girls that coding is cool or important?TM: In every introductory workshop we emphasise the importance of being at the forefront of real change and what their role is. Even if not all of them end up as computer engineers, we encourage them, giving them the space, tools and equal chance to create innovative solutions that will have a significant impact on people’s lives.GirlCode ZAZandile Keebine and two of her friends, Jeanette Theu and Tinyiko Simbine, all work at tech companies. Speaking on a GirlCode ZA podcast, Keebine said she had been to many hackathons where she was either the only female or one of a few to attend. This prompted her to approach her employer to organise a women-only hackathon. GirlCode ZA was born in 2014. It was registered as a nonprofit organisation in 2015, and hosts the GirlCode Hackathon annually.Its mission, according to its website, is to create a network of women who are highly skilled in computer literacy, coding and design, and who can leverage those skills to develop innovative and sustainable solutions in their communities.Girl Code ZA is (from left) Jeanette Theu, Tinyiko Simbine and Zandile Keebine. (Images supplied)Melissa Javan: How did you grow a network of mentors that is now available for women who want to go into the tech industry?Zandile Keebine: We realised that there were, in fact, a lot of women in tech and that the underlining issue was visibility. We provide a platform where women who are already in the space can volunteer their time and knowledge.MJ: You said in a radio interview that it was vital for people to learn a programming language. Why?ZK: It is an undeniable fact that programming is the language of the future and if you want to be part of the economy then it is important to have the right skills that will allow you to be employable.MJ: How do you provide opportunities for women?ZK: Besides workshops, we have an annual hackathon at which women and girls can showcase their coding skills and get job or internship opportunities from our sponsors. With the high unemployment rate it is important for women to realise that they need to up-skill themselves and put their current skills into practice. This is why we have volunteering opportunities for any women whether they are in tech or not.MJ: What can you tell us about your workshops?ZK: The workshop series is designed to offer participants the opportunity to improve their craft before competing in the hackathon later in the year. The idea to introduce workshops was conceived following feedback from participants in previous years. We know that women and girls enter the GirlCode Hackathon for fun, but we also know they do so to improve their skills. So we wanted to offer them more opportunities to do so earlier in the process.The workshops started in February 2017; various corporate sponsors in and around Johannesburg have run half-day workshops on a variety of topics such as HTML and CSS, Design Thinking, WordPress, Business Model Canvas. The topics were carefully designed to give participants the best chance to compete and win at the Hackathon 2017 in August.Besides holding the annual GirlCode Hackathon, Girl Code ZA gives computer literacy courses and has a GirlCoder Accelerated Learning Programme, which teaches students to become full stack ASP.NET developers.MJ: What is a hackathon?ZK: A hackathon is a competition where you have 48 hours or less to build a working prototype of a web or mobile app — maybe even hardware if you are driven to accept that challenge. While it sounds impossible, it’s not.MJ: How many women have taken part so far in these hackathons?ZK: When we first started the hackathon, there were about 17 females. As the years went by, we saw an increase in the number of participants and over the past three years we’ve had just more than 100 females from beginners to advanced developers.MJ: From what age are these women who you help?ZK: We have been focusing on university students and recent graduates. In the upcoming years we plan on expanding to reach girls in high school, from as young as 13.MJ: Are there free tools or websites available for anyone who is interested in learning a programming language?ZK: There are a lot of free online websites such as www.w3schools.com where anyone can start learning. Also, the community is bigger than just GirlCode; there are other initiatives such as www.geekulcha.co.za that offer opportunities for anyone keen to learn programming.Africa Teen GeeksLindiwe Matlali started Africa Teen Geeks after winning a grant of $35,000 (R462,007) from Google Rise. This enabled her to hold a Computer Science Week and start a school programme whereby teachers were trained so they could introduce coding into their schools, she said on the Girl Code ZA blog.Africa Teen Geeks was founded in May 2014, and since then has reached more than 38,000 children. Matlali said the initiative had partnered with Unisa to enable children from disadvantaged communities without computer access to also have an opportunity to learn to code.Lindiwe Matlali, named Innov8tiv’s Top 50 Visionary Women in #Tech To Watch in 2017, is the founder of Africa Teen Geeks. She is pictured with Ndaba Mandela, an ambassador for Africa Teen Geeks. (Images supplied)Melissa Javan: What does Africa Teen Geeks do?Lindiwe Matlali: We teach children aged from five to 18 how to code. We also train teachers from disadvantaged schools so they can teach coding in their schools. There are township schools with donated computer labs that are sitting as white elephants because of a lack of qualified teachers.MJ: Children from what ages benefit from your initiative?LM: We teach children from Grade 1 to matric (grade 12).MJ: Where are they from?LM: Most of our students are from townships.MJ: How do you explain to children that coding is important?LM: We are motivating them to be creators of technologies and not just consumers. Our focus is to raise their aspirations to not only be content about knowing how to use technology, but to create it.Lindiwe Matlali has a BCom in economics and a statistics qualification. “The fact that only 5% of schools teach IT and also only from Grade 10 and in mainly model C schools, led me to start Africa Teen Geeks,” she says. Her intiativeinitiative exposes disadvantaged children to computer science.MJ: Why is it important to be a creator or innovator?LM: South Africa has one of the highest youth unemployment rates in the world. In fact, according to Statistics South Africa, 58% of unemployed people are aged between 15 and 34. This means that youth stand the highest risk of being unemployed. If they are innovative they will not join the unemployment lines and will create employment for themselves and their communities. We want to inspire a generation that doesn’t aspire to be employed but rather to be game changers and trailblazers.MJ: You said on Girl Code ZA that parents often taught their children that coding was for boys, not girls. How do you address this and other negative stereotypes?LM: We have programmes that remove that masculinity of coding. We focus on highlighting female role models who have created technology solutions.MJ: You’ve held hackathon events for children — how do they work?LM: A hackathon is a 48-hour event at which the children create a working prototype of the challenge. This month, the hackathon is on UNODC, the Education for Justice initiative. The children will create apps, games or interactive platforms to solve crime.MJ: On Power FM radio you said that Python was an easier language to learn. Where is this available? Can anyone access it?LM: Python is easier to learn because it uses plain language. Anyone can learn and can access the curriculum on the Python website python.org/about/gettingstarted/.MJ: Are there any there any free tools available online or offline to start learning about programming?LM: There are many free tools available from code.org, Scratch.com for kids and for adults at coursera.org, edx.org and the Khan Academy, to name a few. These are all free tools one can use to learn how to code.We have already created a platform called Knit2Code, on which we teach young girls Python using knitting. They learn to write a Python code for the South Africa flag and a scarf. This is what we call computing without a computer to remove the barriers for disadvantaged children who do not have access to a computer or the internet.Sources: MyBroadband, Girl Code ZA, African Teen Geeks, and Social Coding.Would you like to use this article in your publication or on your website? See Using Brand South Africa materiallast_img read more

Ranthambore now home to 62 tigers

first_imgThe Ranthambore Tiger Reserve in Rajasthan’s Sawai Madhopur district is now home to 62 tigers, the highest number in its history.In a written reply to a question in the Legislative Assembly, the State government said the number of tigers in the reserve has increased over the years.However, the number of big cats is more than the reserve’s capacity leading to migration and territorial adjustment of weak and adult tigers. The reserve is spread over 932 sq. km.A report with the reply stated that seven female and three male tigers in the reserve are untraceable in the last five years.Referring to the assessment of wildlife experts, the government said nearly 20% of tigers either die annually due to various natural reasons or migrate to other territories.The government also said that arrangements of safety and monitoring of tigers has been done.LPG connection was given in villages located near the reserve to reduce the dependency on forests, whereas villages Kathuli (151 families) and Bhid (139) have been completely relocated from the forest area.Bhimpura, Dangra, Unchi Gawadi and Kalibhaat villages have been partially relocated and the work is going on and the procedure to relocate Kala Khorra, Talda Khet and Gadhi villages on priority basis is also proposed.The government also informed that 105 families from Kankwadi, Umri, Sukola, Dabli, Haripura, Kraska and Devari villages, which were located in the critical tiger habitat, have been completely relocated from the Sariska tiger project.Sariska is located in Alwar district.last_img read more

Lara-Bhupathi’s ‘sangeet’ ceremony in Goa tomorrow

first_imgThe star-studded ‘sangeet’ cermony of actress Lara Dutta and tennis star Mahesh Bhupathi’s wedding will be held tomorrow in Goa.The Candolim beach club, the venue of the ceremony, has been decked up in white keeping in tune with the theme for the occasion.Club Fresh is a popular hang out at the North Goa beach, where Bollywood actor Hrithik and Suzzane celebrated their marriage anniversary last month.The couple has already registered their wedding in Mumbai while the formal church wedding and reception is scheduled on February 19 in Goa.”The theme for entire sangeet is white, which matches with the theme of the club. There will be white roses, white jasmines..,” Sunil Chawla, owner and partner of Club Fresh told PTI.The event has a guest list of 200 people comprising film and sports personalities. D J Hussain will set the music ball rolling for the sangeet, playing Bollywood and Hollywood numbers for the guests. ‘Lucent Dossier’, a troup from Los Angeles will perform aerial acts on the occasion.Chawla said that they have been preparing for the occasion since last three weeks after hosting an event for the Roshans.Sources said Shahrukh Khan who was here for Hrithik’s anniversary will be present for the ‘sangeet’.For the gourmets, it will be mainly Goan sea food, Thai, Sushi on the menu card. “We are absolutely delighted that they have chosen Club Fresh for the occasion. Its an honour,” Chawla said.last_img read more

UN Official Lauds Child Diversion Act

first_imgStory Highlights “That is certainly a positive development. Diversion at every stage of the criminal justice system is best for juvenile offenders,” the UN official said. Independent Expert for the United Nations (UN) Global Study on Children Deprived of Liberty, Manfred Nowak, is lauding Jamaica’s soon-to-be-implemented Child Diversion Act as a step in the right direction.“That is certainly a positive development. Diversion at every stage of the criminal justice system is best for juvenile offenders,” the UN official said.Mr. Nowak was speaking with journalists at the second Regional Conference of the International Society for the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect (ISPCAN), at the Hilton Rose Hall Resort and Spa in Montego Bay, St. James, on Monday (December 3).He is also recommending that key stakeholders be involved in the rehabilitation of troubled children. “Having courts with child-friendly justice, psychologists and social workers should be included, so that the child will be rehabilitated, ” he said.Mr. Nowak also underscored that restorative justice must be key in the child diversion process to prevent reversion. As such, he is suggesting that juvenile offenders meet with victims of the crimes they committed, as this approach is among the best practices of many other countries that practise community-based mediation.“This is much more effective to avoid recidivism than putting them in prison, and then they come out and commit another crime,” he said.Child diversion is the process of implementing measures to deal with children who are alleged, accused or recognised to have infringed the penal law, without resorting to formal judicial proceedings.The main objectives of the Child Diversion Act are ensuring that every child in conflict with the law is treated in a manner that recognises and upholds human dignity and worth; diverting the child away from engaging in deviant and delinquent behaviours; and instilling in the child respect for the fundamental rights and freedoms of others.Mr. Nowak is among the key presenters at the ISPCAN Conference, which ends on December 5.The ISPCAN Conference is being held in partnership with the Office of the Children’s Advocate (OCA), under the theme ‘Child Protection Realities within a Changing Caribbean and World’.Participants include child advocates from the United States (US), United Kingdom, Canada, Ireland, Barbados and Switzerland. Mr. Nowak was speaking with journalists at the second Regional Conference of the International Society for the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect (ISPCAN), at the Hilton Rose Hall Resort and Spa in Montego Bay, St. James, on Monday (December 3). Independent Expert for the United Nations (UN) Global Study on Children Deprived of Liberty, Manfred Nowak, is lauding Jamaica’s soon-to-be-implemented Child Diversion Act as a step in the right direction. last_img read more

Wrangling Big Data for BtoB

first_imgWith big data comes big responsibility and as newer technology further enables information gathering, companies will need to utilize data-management techniques to grow their brands and extract streams of revenue.Here, Nick Cavnar [pictured], audience consultant for Nick Cavnar LLC and a featured panelist at FOLIO:’s MediaNext event on October 28 to 30 in New York, talks big data’s advantages and drawbacks and how b-to-b publishers can leverage collected data to drive content.FOLIO: There’s an enormous amount of data available to publishers, but is there too much? If you’re looking to better understand how your brands can thrive in a converged media landscape, register now for FOLIO: and min’s MediaNext event on October 28-30. Nick Cavnar: I don’t think it’s a question of too much or too little data. From what I see, most small to medium-size b-to-b publishers simply aren’t making effective use of whatever amount of data they have. Practically no one even has the ability to tie their web traffic data back to their registered subscriber database, to get a full picture of how individuals interact with all their content and advertising. At best, we’re tying together our various lists to get a little better audience profile. But we’re not using data to truly drive our content delivery or produce better leads for our advertisers.FOLIO: What’s driving the data craze and why has it become so important?Cavnar: Part of the craze comes from seeing how powerful data-driven communication can be. We all read accounts of how data was used to target voters in the last presidential election; we see Google using data to deliver targeted advertising; we know retailers are using data to determine which customers get which discounts and promotions.  We can all see that this is the future. But we’re struggling to find “big data” strategies that fit the reality of our small niche b-to-b markets.FOLIO: Where do you feel mid-market b-to-b publishers should focus their data collection and analysis efforts?Cavnar: Absolutely, b-to-b companies need to focus on identifying their web traffic.  We have good data on our audience when it comes to registrations—for magazines, email, events, or whatever. And we know how much traffic we drive to our sites through our email and other push communication to those registered users. But we lose sight of our audience once they get online.I also think we need to do a much better job of linking and identifying b-to-b audiences by company, and not just by broad industry demographics. Today’s business marketers want to target much more precisely—by specific companies or specific influencers within those companies. This requires tying more research and industry data directly to our audience databases.last_img read more

Infosys appoints Michael Pesch as CEO of its consulting business

first_imgInfosys, India’s second largest IT firm, has appointed Michael Pesch as the new chief executive of its consulting arm Infosys Consulting Holding, which was formerly known as Infosys Lodestone. The appointment is effective from April 1, 2016.Pesch’s appointment comes at a time when the company is stepping up its efforts to increase revenues from new areas such as cloud computing and digital technologies. Pesch will be responsible for Infosys’ consulting practice in Europe, Latin America and the Asia Pacific region and will report to Sanjay Purohit, global head of Infosys consulting business, the company said in a statement.The brand said Pesch will focus on expanding the reach of Infosys consultants and experts in digital transformation and design-led innovation, as well as on increasing Infosys’ expertise in large-scale SAP programs.He will also serve as the regional head of Germany, Austria, Switzerland (DACH) countries, bringing an integrated approach to IT transformation to every client engagement in the region, it added.”Over the last several months, we have reinvigorated our global consulting business, strengthening our team and capabilities. Michael’s appointment as CEO of Infosys Consulting Holding AG adds to our strong leadership in Europe and will bring new vigor in our global consulting business,” said Purohit. The appointments are part of Infosys’ CEO Vishal Sikka’s strategy to put the company back on track to generate industry’s leading growth rates in the coming quarters. Sikka aims to boost its revenues to $20 billion by 2020 from the current $8.7 billion recorded last fiscal year.last_img read more

A Mural Takes On New Tragic Meaning In Mourning El Paso

first_img Share Stella Chávez/KERAManuel, Patricia, and Andrea Oliver speak at an unveiling ceremony for a mural dedicated to their son and brother, Joaquin, who was killed in the Parkland shooting. The ceremony also served as a memorial to those killed in the Walmart shooting in El Paso.Hundreds of people in El Paso turned out Sunday for a rally against gun violence, the day after a gunman killed 22 people and wounded more than two dozen others inside a local Walmart.The suspected 21-year-old gunman from Allen, Texas, is in police custody, and authorities are investigating the shooting as an act of domestic terrorism.Congresswoman Veronica Escobar and Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke addressed the community along with local elected officials and faith leaders. They called on the federal government to draft a national plan to deal with white supremacy, domestic terrorism and gun violence as a national crisis.“El Paso is an incredible community — we have been safe for decades,” Escobar said. “Historically, El Paso has led the nation in its desegregation and integration efforts; and during moments of crisis, we’ve demonstrated to the country how we treat strangers and the most vulnerable in our midst.  We will continue to do this because we have chosen to face challenges with decency, strength and love.”.@BetoORourke and @RepEscobar leading a silent march in El Paso for the unveiling of the Manuel Oliver mural in honor of his son Joaquin who would have turned 19 today. Joaquin was killed in the Parkland, Florida school shooting. @keranews #ElPaso pic.twitter.com/Xs1RcAGs4c— Stella M. Chávez (@stellamchavez) August 5, 2019Following the rally, Escobar and O’Rourke led a silent march to another ceremony. The family of a victim from last year’s mass shooting in Parkland happened to be in El Paso Sunday to unveil a mural in honor of their late son.Joaquin Oliver was one of the 14 students killed by a gunman at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. To commemorate his birthday, his father Manuel Oliver painted a mural outside Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy Center in El Paso.That location near the border was chosen because Joaquin was an advocate for immigrants’ welfare in addition to speaking out against gun violence.  Oliver urged El Paso residents to become advocates too.“This is the moment to talk about guns. We know what those families are going through — their lives have changed forever and they expect you to do something about it.”The mural includes Joaquin’s image and jailed immigrant children. Oliver added “El Paso Is Not Alone” in Spanish.<span data-mce-type=”bookmark” style=”display: inline-block; width: 0px; overflow: hidden; line-height: 0;” class=”mce_SELRES_start”></span>This piece was originally published on KERAlast_img read more

Research team devises better method for mapping orbitals of molecules

first_img Molecular orbitals represent regions in a molecule where an electron is likely to be found; they are derived using mathematical formulas and are represented by cloudlike drawings with multiple nodes that are supposed to represent where electrons can go and are meant to demonstrate how molecules can share those electrons in chemical interactions or bonding. Since it was first invented in 1981, using the STM has generally been the best method available for creating images of individual atoms and their electronic properties. The STM is basically a piece of equipment with a metal appendage that has a tip width of just a few atoms. The tip is moved back and forth in the air very close to a sample being studied. Voltage is then applied allowing electrons to move between the tip and the sample. Doing so allows for measuring of the density of electrons on the surface of the material being studied which is then used to build the models.Unfortunately however, traditional STM has not been able to map orbitals of single molecules. This is because the density of electrons on the surface of an object, don’t give up the mathematical orbital nor does it have a fine enough resolution. Also there is the problem of having to place the sample on a metal surface which can hide what is going on with the molecules that comprise the sample. In the new approach the team solved the easiest part of the problem by coating the surface that the sample lays on with salt. Next, to improve resolution, they stuck a single carbon monoxide molecule on the end of the tip; this because carbon monoxide molecules have the property of having its outermost lobes paired close, with one positive the other negative phased. Such an arrangement makes the tip more sensitive to the sample material placed below it. Using this method the researchers were able to map the structure of the nodes of the molecular orbitals which allowed them to create images based on the places that held electrons. © 2011 PhysOrg.com More information: High-Resolution Molecular Orbital Imaging Using a p-Wave STM Tip, Phys. Rev. Lett. 107, 086101 (2011) DOI:10.1103/PhysRevLett.107.086101AbstractIndividual pentacene and naphthalocyanine molecules adsorbed on a bilayer of NaCl grown on Cu(111) were investigated by means of scanning tunneling microscopy using CO-functionalized tips. The images of the frontier molecular orbitals show an increased lateral resolution compared with those of the bare tip and reflect the modulus squared of the lateral gradient of the wave functions. The contrast is explained by tunneling through the p-wave orbitals of the CO molecule. Comparison with calculations using a Tersoff-Hamann approach, including s- and p-wave tip states, demonstrates the significant contribution of p-wave tip states.via Physics Viewpoint Experiments Prove Existence of Atomic Chain Anchors This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.center_img Explore further Citation: Research team devises better method for mapping orbitals of molecules (2011, August 25) retrieved 18 August 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2011-08-team-method-orbitals-molecules.html (PhysOrg.com) — A team of physicists comprised of members from IBM Research in Switzerland and the University of Liverpool in the U.K. have figured out a way to improve on results obtained using a Scanning Tunneling Microscope (STM) that allows for the orbitals of single molecules to be mapped. They have published a paper on Physical Review Letters describing their procedure.last_img read more