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Help Egyptian Women Learn How to Code

31 July, 2017
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While the field of technology has been known for its gender problem, Egyptian women have taken the initiative to break the underrepresentation of women in the technological field.

AlMakinah and the Giza and Cairo hubs of the Global Shapers community are joining efforts to launch a campaign that aims to financially support 25 young Egyptian women who want to enter the tech field.

AlMakinah Gear Up is a 10-day program that will take place from August 20 until August 31. It functions as an introduction to frontend web development. The women-led tech initiative aspires to teach young women the basics of programming, coding and elements of building websites among other skills.

A crowdfunding campaign has been launched to train young women to code and to prepare them for job opportunities.

“We strongly believe that everyone should have an opportunity to learn. Without these opportunities, our society and economy may fail to empower the most creative minds of our time. We all stand to gain from supporting young, female talent,” according to the campaign's description.

Growth Hacker and Manager of the Women Track at AlMakinah Hoda Hamad shares her observations about the current Gear Up program and previous boot-camp programs.

“There is a huge gap between the portion of males and females [represented in tech]. The programs are always male dominated and that is something I wanted to change,” said Hamad.

Although learning methods vary among individuals, women have shared certain patterns that reflect a lack of self-confidence as opposed to their male colleagues.

“I realised the way we learn as girls is very different from the way guys learned at the bootcamp. For some reason, women are more prone to self-doubt. They are reluctant to take certain risks and there is the pressure of being perfect the first time,” added Hamad.

Hamad further explained the role of the Gear Up program, where women are invited to come learn the fundamentals of programing.

“The reason why we want to do that is to brand this program as something for women. In other words, there is room and space for women to come and experiment. The program will ideally cover all programing topics that we usually cover in Gear Up, but we will also feature women in leadership roles and women in tech with the main goal of trying to encourage more women to take part in the global movement to be more independent, self-reliant and participate in the labour market,” said Hamad.

“I see Egypt as a country where there are a lot of challenges and it is not really an optimistic time right now, but I see that with challenges comes opportunities. I want to continue with my entrepreneurial mind-set and continue to provide a variety of opportunities for people,” said Hamad.

Hamad explained that there are a lot of barriers for women in the technological field, and the campaign wants to alleviate the financial barriers.

“From our side, what we are trying to do is streamline our costs to make the program not too expensive and even take a step further through launching a crowdfunding campaign through Global Shapers,” added Hamad.

Global Shapers is a network of city-based hubs across the globe, which consists of young and passionate people who initiate projects for the benefit of their community.

“As I work in the field of education research, it exposes me to the issues of gender inequality and the great disparity in engineering schools and computer science unlike art and medical schools. We wanted to do a crowd-funding campaign along with Cairo Hub for a stronger network,” said Curator of Giza Global Shapers Hub Salma Abou Hussein.

Abou Hussein said that the main challenge is to raise the funds, which is $5,500.

“We are planning to support 25 girls so it is already planned out for us. If this campaign succeeds, we are going to support Fire-Up which is 12 weeks, so we are taking it one step further,” added Abou Hussein.

Abou Hussein added that Global Shapers are individuals who are interested in many aspects and based on these interests they generate products, services or shape projects for the benefit of society.

“We focus on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). One of the SDGs is addressing gender inequality, whether in education or unemployment. This project is hitting the core of the SDGs; however, we do not focus only on gender-related campaigns, this is not the mandate of Global Shapers,” said Abou Hussein.

“The women in the tech track at AlMakinah is linked with the hashtag #YouCodeGirl. The purpose of our hashtag is not only to encourage women to penetrate the tech space, but also to infuse a supportive culture amongst the community. The only way we can move forward in our careers is to stand together, and not create barriers for other women to succeed,” said Hamad.

Women hold only 25% of all computing occupations, and even fewer held leadership roles.

The World Bank reported in 2016 that the rate of female unemployment in Egypt stands at around 25%, excluding women who were not actively searching for a job.

Support the campaign by clicking here.

Tags women gender inequality technology AlMakinah Gear Up Global Shapers