By Ndileka Swakamisa
Sciences, technology, engineering and maths field in Africa is mainly dominated by men. Tech entrepreneur Sophie Ngassa runs after school classes that teach programming and coding to young girls.
Ngassa is the Cameroonian woman is playing her part in a bid to narrow the gender tech divide. Her intention is to get more girls in the sciences, technology, engineering and maths field.
Women remain underrepresented in the field, which is known as STEM.
Ngassa says that she wants to start working with young girls from an early stage so that they can grow up and fill this gap.
‘Personally my experience motivated me into what I am doing. I was marginalized; I suffered a lot in the field, most of the time I find myself like the only woman working amongst men.’
The engineer turned tech advocate founded the Centre for Youth Education and Economic Development in 2010.
About 100 girls have graduated from the programme so far. The girls have learned how to develop websites, programmes, apps, games and how to code for just over R20.
Ngassa is playing a crucial role, especially since most schools in Cameroon lack proper facilities, needed to teach information technology programmes.
She says one of the challenges that they face is that the technical schools that we have in Africa, particularly in Cameroon is that the laboratories are not equipped. She adds that student with a lot of theory and little practical, and this limits them a lot.
And those who benefiting from the programme are happy.
Rosaline Acha, one of her students says: ‘Well, STEM is like a breeding ground for me to step into technology, because I’m really interested in the computer world. My dream is to become a web developer.’
But there’s still a long way to go as many girls in the country, still shy away from science subjects, which are often thought to be difficult.