Less than 25% of tech jobs in South Africa are held by women. To address this, software development skills organisation GirlCode hosted its annual Hackathon in Cape Town, Johannesburg, and Durban, over the weekend. As part of the event, software developers from online payment gateway PayFast, mentored hackathon teams.
“Attracting more women into the local tech industry is critical to growing the sector. Historically, young girls have not been encouraged to pursue careers in ICT or learn the necessary skills, which has resulted in the gender imbalance. By teaching young girls that gender doesn’t define where you excel – and recognising that they are interested in things like coding and software – we can help them take the first steps on their tech journey,” says Jonathan Page, Head of Technology and Development at PayFast.
South Africa is facing a shortage of at least 70 000 information and communication technology (ICT) professionals, according to recent research by Mitrovic Development and Research Institute. With over 40% of the local workforce made up of women, this presents an opportunity for technology companies to build a pipeline of new talent – provided they are equipped with the right skills.
As part of the event groups of all-female students and graduates worked collaboratively to create a website, game, or mobile app that addresses a selected real-world challenge. Through this process, participants were the chance to learn new skills, share ideas, and build networks. The PayFast talent team were also on the ground, calling for attendees to submit CVs and answering questions about job opportunities in South Africa’s tech and ecommerce space.
“Initiatives like the GirlCode Hackathon are important because they give young female techies the opportunity to envision a career in the ICT space. We’re excited about the technical talent we saw at the Hackathon, and confident that the next generation of tech will be better and more innovative as a result of being more inclusive,” says Page.
In addition to PayFast, other tech companies including Takealot, Vuma, Superbalist, Mint Group, and Byte Orbit took part in the event. Projects were judged based on originality and impact, user experience, and functionality. The winning team, Modern Girls, who tackled the issue of access to sanitary pads, walked away with new laptops and a R60 000 cash prize.
In 2021, DPO Group, of which PayFast is a subsidiary, was acquired by Network International, a globally renowned enabler of digital commerce across the Middle East and Africa. As South Africa’s leading online payment gateway, PayFast enables frictionless, secure, and instant transactions helping businesses succeed in the digital economy. For more information visit payfast.io