Women in Big Data Global



South Africa Chapter Highlights

Women in Big Data

By Naomi Molefe,

May 14, 2019


14 May 2019,
The South African chapter is the first African Women in Big Data chapter to launch. Here is a summary of the activities we have contributed to in the last few weeks.

March 18th – SAPNexGen hosted a WiDS event in partnership with Stanford University. WiBDSA was invited as a collaborative partner to assist in crafting the content for the event and contribute to the panel discussions. The theme, the changing face of data science, provided a backdrop upon which we could unpack what these technological advancements mean for the African continent and South African society. The audience was mostly made up of professional women in low to middle management who are interested in the Data Science field and the opportunities it presents. Click here to view a snippet video of the event.

May 4th – We celebrated #StarWarsDay with Geekulcha, a community of makers, where young, creative and ambitious tech geeks meet. The community is led by Mixo Ngoveni and Tiyani Nghonyama, who established this community in 2013. We spent the day learning about the various ways Open Data platforms can be leveraged to solve African problems.

L. to R.: Naomi Molefe (Chair of SA chapter), Palesa Naka (Chief Engineering Officer, Kulani Group), Kurisani Maswanganyi (Managing Director, Kulani Group) and Lindi Nakedi (Managing Director, Gubhani Exploration).

Dr. Paul Plantinga, from the Human Sciences Research Council, highlighted some of the exciting projects they have rolled out to monitor Air Pollution data using sensors placed on the streets of Soshanguve in Pretoria.

We learned about some of the uses cases for AI in Africa. Dr. Vukosi Marivate took us through the work that his team of researchers at the University of Pretoria are doing, including  investigating how the racial and gender biases in the development of AI based tools have social implications for Africans and how we can get involved in solving this problem.

Our deputy chairperson, Keneilwe Mafatshe, was a hit with the young dev women, who expressed interest in not only joining our Global Forum Women In Big Data but their need for female mentors. Click here to view a video.

May 9th – The chair, Naomi, was invited to give a keynote at the Women in Mining South Africa event where young women, Entrepreneurs and Executive women within the South African mining industry were in attendance. WiMSA shares similar goals and mission with WiBD: to provide an empowering network that will inspire, support and develop the progression of women working in the South African mining industry. It is led by Thabile Makgala, a Mining Executive at Impala Platinum. From a digital talent point of view, Naomi shared her experience and anecdotes on the key drivers for talent demand within the mining and metals industry in the next few years.


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