By Mary Hearty

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) reports that women are progressing in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) careers. However, they remain substantially underrepresented in them and in higher education.

According to UNESCO, less than 30% of women globally are engaged in STEM while their male counterparts dominate this field with a total of 72%.

In a bid to help bridge the gender gap, particularly in tech, ALX, a leading technology training provider, has kicked off its commitment to increasing the participation of women in tech with its first-ever female-only programme, aiming to provide up to 50,000 women in Africa with Software Engineering skills.

The program which requires no prior experience or background in information technology will help increase the representation of women in the technology sector and drive the participation of women to innovate and create solutions for a diverse world.

This cohort will provide a launchpad for women to grow their careers in one of the most exciting and in-demand fields in the world.

The program will enable these women to participate in the global technology revolution in order to transform the tech status quo throughout the continent.

It is estimated that women comprise just five percent of global software engineers. Considering that there are an estimated 690 000 software engineers in Africa, even applying the global average means that there is a significant gender divide that must be addressed.

It is through this female cohort that ALX will take the steps necessary to reduce this considerable disparity. With support from the Mastercard Foundation, ALX is offering sponsored placements to thousands of young women who meet the eligibility requirements for this programme.

“ALX knows that our collective future depends upon a female voice, a female brain, and her perspective in devising solutions for the world of tomorrow. Through ‘WomXn and Tech’, we are boldly proclaiming our call to action for women across the continent and the rest of the world to not just have a seat at the table, but to redesign the table. This 100% female software engineering cohort we are introducing helps to accomplish this,” Fred Swaniker, Founder and chief executive officer (CEO) of African Leadership International (ALI), which ALX is part of.

The programme has been made possible following the recent acquisition by ALI of leading Silicon Valley institution, Holberton Inc. ALX is now one of the largest software engineering trainers in the world, which aligns with the organization’s mission to develop Africa’s human capital at scale and enable women with best-in-class digital skills and excellence.

“Imagine a world where every voice is heard, where every perspective is valued, where every person can contribute their unique talents and insights to create the best possible products and services. This is the world we must strive for in technology, where women make up half of all users but are often excluded from the engineering process,” Julien Barbier, co-founder of Holberton and Chief Product Officer at ALI said.

“By tapping into the full potential of our diverse communities, we not only foster innovation but also unlock the boundless talent and creativity of all Africans.”

The cohort has been designed to support women from the start of their training and throughout their career journeys as they become part of The ROOM, ALI’s community of top technology professionals from across the globe.

“We want to encourage young women in Africa to see technology as a pathway to a great career. As such, we are investing in young women to give them the support they need to thrive and either pursue a career in technology or embark on technology ventures themselves,” Sharon O’Donnell, Chief Experience Officer at ALI stated.

Reeta Roy, President and CEO of the Mastercard Foundation, added: “The quality of a girl’s future is determined by the quality of the opportunities she has to learn and develop work-relevant skills. The Mastercard Foundation is committed to addressing systemic barriers inhibiting young women from accessing relevant learning and dignified economic opportunities. Through our partnership with ALI, we are working to help enable women to become catalysts and advocates for change in their communities, creating opportunities for future generations of girls and the economy as a whole.”

Applications for the ALX Software Engineering intake for women close on 15 March. The programme will start on 27 March.

For more information on the programme and its entry requirements, please visit