Mbali Hlongwane

South Africa

CEO

#Coding #tech
Where are you from?

Currently based in

Durban, South Africa

South Africa

What is your educational background?

Systems Developer

What is your current occupation?

I am the CEO and Founder at Pink Codrs Africa

What (or who) got you into STEM?

I have always been intrigued by computers and developing Apps and Websites. I participated in a lot of hackathons when I was still studying which exposed me to the exciting parts of the tech industry

What is the biggest challenge/barrier you have faced as an African in STEM?

The tech space is a male dominated industry and has less room that accommodates women. My biggest challenge has been preparing women for an industry that is not set up to accommodate them. PinkCodrs Africa recognises the importance for Africa to enhance and develop the skills of its workforce and invest in its local talents, especially women, if the continent is to thrive in its digital revolution.

How do you think your background/upbringing has been beneficial in your journey/career?

The need to help is what I inherited from my parents who believe that "Empowered women should empower others." This has been my driving factor to helping women in the tech space. This has helped me keep my head up and continue to run Pink Codrs with passion as it has given me more reason to life!

How do you think we can start to change the narrative surrounding African contributions to global STEM research & careers?

Lacking reliable data, Africa’s situation is imagined to be worse than that of the developed nations where only 26% of computing professionals were female. In the decorated innovation capitals of Africa, Nairobi and Lagos; the efforts to recruit, train, and attract more women in the field is staggering. The same applies at all hubs, universities and institutions across Africa. It is mostly young men developing apps, running product sprints, or engaging in other computing work. To promote gender parity in its teams, PinkCodrs Africa is organising recruitment campaigns and training seminars for women in South Africa and Tanzania, an initiative that will create innumerable programs that allow women to connect, collaborate and create in their communities. We are creating a place where women developers, data scientists and tech enthusiasts can connect, share ideas, tackle challenges and learn.

What advice would you like to give to young, aspiring African’s in STEM?

The lack of women of colour in tech poses as an opportunity as the tide of tech rises daily - African women have the opportunity to develop businesses, lead and dictate how tech affects and impacts the future of women in Africa. Technology dictates how we live and work and has been a playground for men. It is a time for women to be equipped and ready to solve problems for women and become leaders for the next generation of women in tech!

Do you have any project you're working on that you would like us to highlight?

Pink Codrs is driving #ConversationsThatMatter which is a series of webinars (discussions) with industry experts that gives direction and advice to women in the tech space during the Covid-19 pandemic. The conversations range from in-demand skills to equip yourself with, how to position yourself for growth in your career and inputs on how female leaders are adapting in their organisations.

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