We chatted to young IT prodigy, Lebogang Madise, about her career, her plans for the future and how she feels about women succeeding in the IT sector.
1. What position do you currently hold?
I don’t believe in the term “holding a position”, it suggests a lot of ‘clinging on’ and a sense of attachment, and being in the ICT industry which is a rapidly growing one, one shouldn’t be tied to titles. I do what needs to be done. However to answer the question, I have a number of hats:
- One being that of Founder and CEO of FRUITYMO, a tech edu company whose primary focus is teaching people how to code as well as developing solutions centred on education. http://www.fruitymo.co.za
- Secondly, I serve in the IEEE Region 8 Student Activities Committee as Student Branch Coordinator. http://www.ieeer8.org/category/student-activities/
- And finally I am contracted by the Jo’burg Centre for Software Engineering (JCSE) as the Operations Assistant in the Digital Innovation Zone which is powered by WITS. http://www.jcse.org.za
2. What are your ICT qualifications?
I’ve studied a number of things… However as far as ICT qualifications are concerned I am in the process of acquiring my BSc degree in Computer Science with UNISA.
3. What is your experience in ICT?
My experience in ICT is centred around software development; anything from developing websites to mobile apps targeting Windows phones and tablet devices to teaching people how to code.
4. Did you find you had to prove yourself more since you are a woman?
No. I find I have to prove myself since the ICT industry is a competitive and ever advancing one. When it comes to building software, I don’t think people care much as to whether you’re a woman or not, it’s more about your attitude; having a teachable spirit shifts you from having to “prove” yourself to being in a position where you can learn from people (male or female), who are experts in the field and thus building your character and skills level set.
5. How do you think we can get young women interested in ICT?
I believe exposing them to the ICT field, which is a huge one to young women will get them interested. We only fear that which we don’t know. This will take a cumulative effort; I know and have worked with a number of organizations whose central mission is to get more women interested in ICT as a career path of choice. Personally, I am pro any STEM related career.
7. Why do you think fewer girls are interested in ICT?
I personally don’t think fewer girls are interested in ICT, statistics indicate that there are more men in the field than women, however it doesn’t mean fewer girls are interested. Our environments condition girls into choosing careers which are not as “demanding” as ICT. Eg: Before an average township girl can do her math homework, she first needs to clean the house and probably cook supper; the boy who is a fellow classmate does not have those responsibilities and thus has more time to focus on the math homework and even excel. So we’re looking at time-share making anything such as taking up coding or electronics as a hobby for a young girl to be a luxury.
8. What are your plans for the future?
At this point I believe the future is now. I am living my dream. I have started a company – however young it is – and it’s something I have always wanted to do, its core focus is what drives me. I’d have to say, my plans are centred around seeing it materialize into what we’ve envisioned it to be. I want to change the world and through this initiative, many more young people will acquire skills that will help them be independent and innovative.
Thanks so much to Lebogang for answering our questions – we wish her everything of the best with her projects!