It’s day 4 of the hackathon and the teams are in full swing solving the problems they are passionate about with technology. It’s been a busy day moving around, lounging around and even jumping around as we share ideas, debate, pivot, and start it all over again after the next scrum.
It’s been such a joy to see the teens come out of their shells and speak their mind, making the case for their ideas and views. What’s been especially important for me has been to see just how many young women and girls are interested in technology — two thirds of the attendees are female. It is wonderful to see how many of them are already coding and that see no barriers to them having a successful career in tech or even creating the technology companies of the future. I hope that this is something that we can see here in the UK, in Africa and in fact the world over.
Yesterday, 9 August, was National Women’s Day in my home country of South Africa. It is a day where we celebrate women and their contributions to society. We commemorate their critical role in the apartheid struggle, the stand they took to allow the future and opportunities we now enjoy. That day women from all walks of life, all colors of our beautiful rainbow nation marched and made their voices heard. Voices that see more diversity in the spaces where we work, live and play. And soon, more diversity in technology. I see the same spirit to make a difference and be heard growing in the young women and people here as they move to empower themselves and eventually define the futures that they want.
Artificial Intelligence, Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality, Cyber Security and many more new technologies — it is a brave new world. A world where young women can be whatever they dream of. I can’t help but be excited about the future when I see what is happening here. It’s been so rewarding in so many ways to be a mentor at this Acorn Aspirations initiative. I have learnt so much from the teens, the speakers and our phenomenal organizer Elena. It’s been a week well spent reconnecting with the younger me and reigniting a belief in a brighter future that’s in good hands.
By Machela Sathekga
Machela is an MBA candidate at London Business School. She is an Actuary, a venture capital investor in Africa, and is passionate about social enterprise, education and technology.