It's 2022 and women and girls still don't have access to the same jobs, education, and opportunities as men and boys.
As the world continues to be dominated by a patriarchal system, women and girls globally are often relegated to domestic duties in the home. Meanwhile when women are in work, looking at data from the International Labour Organization, occupations dominated by women are still, for the majority, roles that are seen as "women's work" — care workers, cleaners and helpers, clerical support, and food preparation, for example.
As a result of the preconceived notion that women aren't just as competant and capable as men, and the overall gender inequality that continues to haunt the universal progress of women and girls, women continue to be shut out of many industries, particularly jobs in STEM — science, technology, engineering, and maths.
According to Insider, jobs like software engineering, financial analysis, and architecture are still male-dominated, and despite the growth of STEM industries all over the world, just 35% of STEM students in higher education globally are women, according to UNESCO.
What these industries fail (or refuse) to realise is that gender equality, especially in the workplace, is actually closely related to the economic growth of a country. Reducing the gender gap would lead to higher rates of employment, increased labour market activity, and overall economic growth, as highlighted by the European Institute for Gender Equality.
With women in Africa being some of the most economically active women in the world, particularly as farmers and entrepreneurs, removing these barriers would mean that they would be able to contribute even more to Africa's economic growth.
As a way to tackle this issue and open up opportunities for girls and women, many organisations are creating scholarships, communities, and mentorship programmes to help give girls a kickstart for their careers.
“The best time to introduce women to tech was 20 years ago. The next best time is now. One of the ways we can bridge the gender disparity that exists in tech is to ensure that there is inclusiveness,” explains Jadesola Anoma, speaking to Global Citizen. Anoma is the founder of Women in Data Africa, a space that connects African women who want to build a career in data with resources and community.
Africa’s women and girls can take the continent to new heights, but only if empowered with the access and the knowledge. Scholarship programmes and communities can help provide that much-needed access.
Here, we've compiled a list of some of the many scholarships, communities, and mentorship programmes that help Africa’s women and girls get started in male-dominated fields.
These scholarships help girls pay for education, equipment, and other resources.
1. The African Coding Network Scholarship
The African Coding Network is an organisation that trains and supports young people in careers in tech. Their scholarship opportunities, in partnership with Grow With Google and Meta, help young people upskill and start a career in tech. Although the scholarships are open to everyone, the African Coding Network prioritises women (90% of their recipients last year were women), people with disabilities, and other minority groups. You can find more information about The African Coding Network scholarships here.
2. Generation Google Scholarship
The Generation Google scholarship programme by Google is aimed at women who are starting a career in computer science and gaming. The programme awards women in computer science, engineering, and other technical fields €7,000 (about $7,600) or the local equivalent for the academic year, to help with tuition, equipment, and other related educational expenses. You can find more information about the Generation Google Scholarship programme here.
3. L’Oréal-UNESCO Sub-Saharan Africa Young Talents Programme
The L’Oréal-UNESCO Sub-Saharan Africa Young Talents Programme was created to encourage young African women in science. The programme is aimed at established young women scientists, in the doctoral and postdoctoral stage, who contribute to scientific advancement. PhD students are awarded €10,000 (about $10,800) each and post doctoral researchers are granted €15,000 (about $16,200) each. You can find more information about the programme here.
4. Margaret Sanders AISA Scholarship for Girls
The Margaret Sanders Scholarship is an annual scholarship offered by the Association of International Schools in Africa (AISA). This scholarship programme is aimed at academically gifted girls across Africa who are unable to continue their education due to financial or cultural reasons. The participating school (a member of AISA) covers tuition costs of the scholarship recipient until graduation, while the scholarship covers extra curricular activities and other incidental expenses. You can learn more about the scholarship programme here.
These communities offer a support system, resources, and networking opportunities to African women in different fields.
5. She Code Africa
She Code Africa is a nonprofit organisation that empowers women in tech in Africa. In addition to programmes and mentorship opportunities, you can also join their community of over 10,000 African women in tech. She Code Africa also has a peer support programme that helps with networking and meeting other women on the same track as you. Join the She Code Africa community here.
6. Women In Data Africa
The Women In Data Africa group helps women acquire skills to pursue data-driven careers. Founded in January 2022 to address the gender disparity and shortage of women in the data industry, the Women in Data Africa community has evolved into a space for women to learn, have fun, and also build their dream careers in the data space. We’re just a few months into 2022 and already this year over 150 African women have learnt data-driven skills and are pursuing careers in the field. Join the Women in Data Africa community here.
7. Developer In Vogue
Developer in Vogue is a community for women in tech co-founded in 2017 by Ivy Barley, a technical programme manager at Microsoft. In addition to being a community for African women, Developers in Vogue also organises bootcamps, meetups, training programmes, and scholarships for community members. In addition, they have a 2-month student internship programme where female students are placed in internships across various companies to grow and develop their skills. You can join the Developer in Vogue community here.
These programmes connect experienced women with women who are just starting out in their careers.
8. For Creative Girls Mentorship Programme
For Creative Girls is a platform for female creatives founded by Gbemi Adekanmbi, a communication specialist and social impact expert, in 2016. In addition to their programmes and classes, they also have a mentorship programme that connects women to well established members of the creative community. Their mentors include Bongiwe Selane, an award-winning film and TV producer who is also the festival director of the Joburg Film Festival, and Morenike Olusanya, a visual artist and graphic designer. Join their 2022 mentee intake here.
9. The Moremi Initiative Mentoring Programme
Moremi Initiative for Women’s Leadership in Africa is a nonprofit organisation founded in 2004 that empowers women to take up leadership roles in their communities. They provide spaces, opportunities, and programmes for women in order to equip them to grow as leaders. One of those programmes is the Moremi Initiative Mentoring Programme that connects young African women with some of Africa’s most influential people, with the aim to inspire them to become agents of change. Join the Moremi Initiative Mentoring Programme here.
10. African Tech Vision Mentorship Programme
African Tech Vision is a mentorship programme founded by Sohaila Ouffata, the managing director of BMW i Ventures in Europe. The programme supports female African entrepreneurs and founders by connecting them with a network of global experts from the startup and tech scene. Their mentors include Deb Dipjyoti, a venture partner and startup advisor for programmes that include the World Food Programme, and Frank Yaw-Owusu, an ecosystem developer at Twilio. You can join the African Tech Vision Mentorship Programme here.