We recently announced a partnership with DataQuest, offering free scholarships to aspiring data scientists in Africa. Making the data science field more inclusive is core to our mission at Ishango.ai. This is why we earmarked 100 of these scholarship to nurture the next generation of African female data scientists.
While strides are being made to close the gender gap in sciences, prevailing gender stereotypes and norms still prevent many African women and girls from aspiring to and pursuing careers in STEM. This is why we were super excited and proud of the fact that 2663 women from all over Africa applied for our scholarship programme. What did this demonstrate? That there is a huge untapped talent pool of young women across the region who are dreaming big and want to develop their skills in the data science field.
Data, it has often been said, is the new oil. Data is now a key driver of decision making in everything from education and healthcare to financial services and agriculture. Critically, AI algorithms are increasingly being relied on to make these decisions. While these technological advances have many significant benefits, they also come with the risk of potentially harmful consequences of biased algorithms. From gender-biased AI automated recruitment tools to credit algorithms that disproportionately penalize female applicants, there is no shortage of recent examples that biased algorithms are impacting women’s access to opportunities.
The path to more equitable technology starts with diversifying who gets to be a part of creating it. This is why we have now established our Ishango.ai Women data science community to inspire and support the thousands of aspiring female data scientists across Africa through mentorship, informative sessions and skills development opportunities.
This month we have kicked things off by awarding the 100 DataQuest scholarships. This was no easy task as we had to select from 2600+ applicants, all of whom were very deserving of this opportunity. Next month, we will host our first community event – Women in Data Science: Breaking the Bias. Do come along and join us to hear from women who are blazing the trail in the data science field, speaking about their experiences and how the ecosystem can better encourage and support women.
And we are just getting started! We hope that this will be the first of many more opportunities and events to come. If you are an experienced data scientist or organisation with tools and expertise to share with our Women in data science community, please do reach out to us, we would love to collaborate!