On the 27th February 2016, the faculty of Computing and Informatics at Namibia University of Science and Technology (NUST) in collaboration with Google, University of Namibia (UNAM) and Telecom Namibia hosted the first ever Namibian ‘Women in Computing’ conference which took place on NUST grounds. The event also commemorates Anita Borg’s birthday which is celebrated around the world. Anita Borg was a Computer Scientist and an advocate for women in computing who relentlessly fought to ensure that technology has a positive impact on people’s lives. She founded the Anita Borg Institute. Click here for more info on her.
Dr Anicia Peters, Dean of the faculty of Computing and Informatics at NUST, masterminded the event. She is a recipient of the Google Anita Borg Memorial Scholarship for Women in Computer Science through which she has studied in the US. She has made a vow to encourage girls in Namibia to pursue studies in the Computing field and being a key organizer of this event, is already applying that very vision.
The event attracted some 200 women and girls interested in Computing and related fields ranging from high school learners to professional women and university students/staff from NUST, UNAM and IUM. The Vice-Chancellor of NUST, Prof. Tjama Tjivikua, welcomed the participants and gave his appreciation to the organizers and participants. Topics presented at the conference focused on providing a platform to introduce, attract and encourage women and girls to the Computing field and provide role models and mentors for them.
“I think it’s very important to get more women into computing. My slogan is: Computing is too important to be left to men.”— By Karen Spärck Jones, Professor of Computers and Information at Cambridge Computer Laboratory.
Amongst the key speakers, was Ebru Celik, a Technical Programme Manager at Google. She connected via video conferencing for her talk and shared her successes as well as challenges she faced as a woman in computing. She stressed that a person’s gender should not have any bearing on their profession. In addition to the talks, panel discussions provided an opportunity for participants to ask questions to a group of six panelists who are professionally active in the technology field. A student panel also shared survival guidelines for women that find themselves in a “Male dominated world”.
The participants were served breakfast, a delicious lunch and what is a birthday celebration without cake? Three cakes were prepared for the celebration with some yummy ice-cream to cool-off the participants from the scorching weather outside.
Participants were also asked to sketch a design that they would like as the official logo for the ‘Women in Computing’ conference. In addition, there was a human bingo competition which encouraged the participants to meet new people and engage with each other. Across the hall from these engagements were exhibitors including a group of three 13 year old girls who demonstrated 3D programming and Tangeni Kamati, a 3rd year Computer Science student, who showcased his great invention of a car robot. Participants each received Google goodie bags and had access to free and fast 4G LTE Wi-Fi thanks to Telecom Namibia.
Women in Computing Society
The event concluded with the formation of the Women in Computing (WIC) Society which is aimed at creating a platform where women can host get-together’s, plan activities and share ideas that will assist in the growth of the technological industry in Namibia and Africa at large. Talks are underway on hosting the event every year in February.
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