Inspiring the Next Generation of Women in Tech
The New Girl Code (a.k.a Project Prep) is a series of novels about the wonders of working in tech, aimed at girls and young women aged 9-15. The project is an initiative of Inspiring Fifty, a non-profit that aims to increase diversity in tech by making role models more visible.
The New Girl Code tells the story of four thirteen-year-old girls as they begin to discover new worlds: technology, entrepreneurship and learning how to code. It is a story about technology, but also friendship, love, fashion, relationships and all other things in the life of a 14-year-old. The main character comes across all the challenges, setbacks and successes any technology entrepreneur faces. But most importantly, she discovers how magical working in technology can be—that amazing feeling that comes from seeing an idea become a reality, something you can actually use and that is impacting other people’s lives for the better.
Inspiring Fifty: Empowering Women Leaders
Technology means possibilities, innovation and creativity. However, a lot of young femmes have a totally different view of tech. They see tech as one-note, something exclusive and expensive, to be done alone. Not as something creative that can be used across various fields. That’s why we wanted to create an authentic and relatable voice for young girls, a reflection of the possibilities of tech to life and to make it relevant for them.
A recent study underlines the need for initiatives such as this one. Girls lose interest in STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) at a very young age, and both female role models and the need to provide girls with the opportunity to express their creativity through hands-on experiences are seen as crucial to change this. We need this change for the girls themselves, but also for an economy that cannot afford to forget these girls. Around 90% of jobs are estimated to need at least some level of digital skills and we are already facing a big shortage of skilled people to fill all jobs in technology. A shortage that will only increase.
The book’s Dutch edition was launched with the support of Queen Máxima of the Netherlands, where it is a best-seller. Project Prep has become a movement in its home country and now aims to do the same in other countries to inspire and empower girls to work in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.
The project is an initiative of Inspiring Fifty and a joint effort of serial technology entrepreneur Janneke Niessen, seasoned editor Andrea Stanley, best-selling children’s author Niki Smit, with illustrations by famed artist Josselin Bijl. This is a non-profit initiative and the funds that will be made with the book will be used to further support the activities to increase diversity in technology.
About the Local Editor, Buhle Ngaba
Inspiring artist Buhle Ngaba is the editor of the South African version of The New Girl Code. She studied Acting and Contemporary performance at Rhodes University and also studied Processes of Performance at the University of Leeds (UK). She was a member of Ubom! Eastern Cape Drama Company and performed several productions at Grahamstown National Arts Festival, and across South Africa.
Buhle spent six months touring Cape Town and Johannesburg with the critically acclaimed musical, ‘Blood Brothers’, directed by David Kramer, interpreting the role of Mrs. Lyons. In 2015, she performed in the world premiere of John Kani’s play “Missing” at the Baxter, directed by Janice Honeyman, which toured internationally for more than two years and which earned her nominations for Best Supporting Actress for both the Fleur Du Cap and Naledi Theatre Awards.
In 2016, Buhle was a recipient of the prestigious Brett Goldin Bursary, with the opportunity to expand her knowledge and acting ability of Shakespeare at The Royal Shakespeare Company (Stratford, UK).
Buhle was voted number 1 in The Superbalist Top 100 List (2016) and was named as one of the Mail and Guardian’s Top 200 Young South Africans (2016). As the founder of KaMatla NPO and author of The Girl Without A Sound, Buhle seeks to promote diversity in children’s literature and aid the development of the arts in underprivileged communities and to develop the legacy of storytelling amongst the youth.
She was recently acknowledged with a Gauteng Youth Premiers award for excellence. Buhle also recently won two Kanna Theatre Awards including best upcoming artist for her first play, “The Swan Song”. She is hoping to perform the show nationally as well as internationally in 2018. Buhle was recently nominated for a Fleur Du Cap Theatre Award (2018) for “Best Leading Actress” in a play for Nadia Davids’ “What Remains”.
Through her writing, acting, and inspiring work at KaMatla NPO, Buhle empowers black youth, and especially black young women, to find their own voices in a world where they are often disempowered and dismissed.