We Code: Changing the female narrative in digital technology

Young women and girls are trained to become professional software testers.

Like with many other sectors, the norm of male dominancy still prevails in the digital world. Men are the programmers, software developers, website designers and so on; women on the other hand shun the sector.

However a number of initiatives are working to close this gender gap.

‘We Code’ is one of those initiatives that are striving to change this narrative when it comes to female engagement in digital technology and software management.

Through its five year program, the initiative has a target of training over 300 young women and girls to become professional software testers.

The initiative is working to close the gender gap in technology. Simon P. Kaliisa.

A software tester is one who tests software for bugs, errors, defects or any problem that can affect the performance of computer software or an application.

Belinda Uwera Kangeyo, a master’s degree holder in Computer Science, is a beneficiary of this initiative. She commends the uniqueness of the program citing the exceptional teaching style that imparts them with great skills.

This, she says, is very crucial in equipping them with competitive skills required at the job market.

“Apart from the certificate we get, we are introduced to other skills such as interpersonal, communication and coordination abilities as well as competency skills. These help us to stand out as we seek for employment,” she says.

Sabine Umuhoza, a telecommunication engineering degree holder, one of the first cohorts-turned-facilitator, compliments the benefits of joining the program.

“I am just blessed to have such an opportunity because as an engineer I should be in the know of how the entire system works. Becoming a software-testing professional is another important skill I am counting on,” Umuhoza says.

Leveraging female abilities

Dr Michael Pucci a chief tutor and an education, innovation and director at Muraho Technology says that they are focusing on women and girls for several reasons singling out the need to leverage women’s ability of multi-tasking and high level of concentration.

Here at We Code we go with the popular saying, ‘women first’. We recognise women’s uniqueness. Software testing calls for delicacy and attention to detail, and these attributes fare well with women, Pucci says.

Women who join the initiative are not limited by their level of education.

 “At We Code, we welcome girls and women from high school and those at the master’s degree level,” he says.

Why software testing

According to Forbes Magazine, software developing, testing and tech consulting services grew by 6 percent in 2018 from 4.3 per cent in 2017 reaching $3 trillion value.

Rwanda being envisioned to become a regional tech and innovation hub, Pucci believes software testing has to be one of the key areas to be prioritised.

This, he says, is because of its employability in contrast to other related professions. Inclusiveness should be part of the equation if Rwanda is to make this sustainable, he notes.

“Rwanda as a country has to specialize if it is to reap big because for every single programmer, one has to employ ten software testing professionals. However for sustainability inclusiveness has to be part and parcel of the project,” he adds.

Pucci reveals that students have been able to work on 13 international projects.

The initiative is funded by GIZ, a Germany development Agency in collaboration with Ministry of ICT and Innovation, Ministry of Youth, Private Sector Federation and Muraho Technology.