A CUSTOM software engineering company is about to revolutionise the way young women perceive their role in the IT industry.
ThoughtWorks designs, creates and delivers software, and has just appointed its first South African general manager, Kgomotso Sediane. It hopes the move will change the role of girls in the technology sector .
The international organisation operates in 12 countries and has 29 branches globally.
Before Sediane took over, there was no head. The local office was run by Betty Enyonam Kumahor, ThoughtWorks’ managing director for Africa .
Sediane says the company opened in South Africa two years ago.
It targets young women to increase their creative participation in the IT industry.
“At the moment, we rely on software developed outside our continent. We are looking forward to the day a South African or African, preferably a woman, develops software that we can be proud of, own and get used by the world.”
She says their mission statement encompasses two major elements: the development of humanity as a resource – through the use of software – and driving social and economic justice.
“We’ve seen women being relegated to less important roles in the industry. This is the injustice we are talking about,” she says.
ThoughtWorks has embraced the Black Girls Code (BGC), which aims to get young black women to be not only consumers of software, but also developers.
“The BGC is meant to create a safe environment for black girls to develop software compliant to that of the African IT space.
“For instance, we are teaching them not only how to use an app, but how to create a fully-fledged app from scratch.”
The organisation generates its income from selling software developed by in-house thinkers.
Sediane says the three pillars on which the company was founded are: to build a sustainable business, to be different from other organisations involved in the business of developing and selling software and to address the social and economic injustices of our society.
Sediane started out as a computer programmer for a bank and was a project manager before she joined ThoughtWorks. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in computer science.
She strives for the empowerment of young women, but acknowledges the role men play in her organisation. “By instinctively being protective of women, men encourage disruptive thinking, which is the basis of our existence. Disruptive thinking becomes positive thinking and creative juices flow.”
ThoughtWorks has ties with tertiary institutions, so students are exposed to the realities of the IT industry, experiences and the “thinking” of an IT person.