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FOR C R E AT I N G CAREER OPPORTUNITIES IN TECH FOR YOUNG WOMEN Emma Dicks Co-founder, director, Code for Cape Town; co-founder, CodeSpace


A shocking global statistic that keeps 28-year-old Emma Dicks hard at work is that only one in five IT company executives is a woman—meaning the critical strategic decisions within this space are predominantly made by men. Oddly enough, the reason Dicks’s successful enterprise, CodeSpace, actually exists today is only by virtue of her decision not to study computer science. While interning at a local tech company during her BCom degree, she was introduced to a team who was building software that would completely change how public healthcare was delivered. “It dawned upon me how misinformed I was about coding: how creative it can actually be, and the social impact it can have. At the same time, I realised I was capable of coding myself, and that computer science wasn’t as unachievable as I‘d been led to believe.” The same epiphany helped Dicks realise that careers in technology are not something to which young South African women are suitably exposed or even encouraged to consider. Code for Cape Town aims to ignite young women’s aspirations and bring new options to the table which might not have been in the realm of possibility. Code for Cape Town was born out of Innovate South Africa—an organisation co-founded by Dicks soon after graduating—which runs a series of youth innovation challenges aimed at helping young students prototype their most pioneering ideas. In 2014, she co-founded and launched her high-school girls’ programme, Code for Cape Town, as a means of empowering young women to leverage technology for social innovation and encourage greater diversity in the African tech industry. Just one year later, she was presented with the Queen’s Young Leaders Award at Buckingham Palace for her efforts. Code for Cape Town courses were initially offered exclusively in the Cape Town township of Khayelitsha before classrooms opened up across the city. They provide female students with an introduction to coding as well as problem-solving

Fast Company SA - July 2017 Issue 27  
Fast Company SA - July 2017 Issue 27