It has been almost a month since the mind-blowing feat that was the Switch Conference, and the event is still fresh in our minds. The conference, which is the first of its kind on the Island, aimed to create a space for young women to connect, learn from and be inspired by role models, both male and female, who are similar to them and grow their knowledge and skill base in technology. It was free of charge and organised entirely by a team of students studying at the African Leadership University.
The event happened on the 7th and 8th of June 2019 and saw an attendance of 280 people of which 60% were female. Despite being a two-day event 75% of the day-one attendees came back again on day-two to participate in the conference activities. It was a true testimony of the engagement which the activities created and the relevance of the cause to create spaces for women and girls in tech to thrive. By offering the event free of charge, more people were encouraged to attend and experience what the conference had to offer. Transportation to and from the event was made available to facilitate attendance and help attendees gain the best out of the experience. This was provided alongside a fully meal-catered experience courtesy of the Conference sponsors, it really was a time to comfortably explore the ideas being shared.
Conference Organization, Speakers and Sponsors
As mentioned, the conference was organised by a team of students from the African Leadership University and funds for the events were raised from multiple sources including organisations operating on the island and beyond. The organising team had sub-teams spanning media and design, logistics, agenda and speaker management, project management and so forth. Please visit the official Switch website to read more about the great work that was done to make this a reality at switchconference.io. The conference featured 27 speakers, 7 of which were international speakers. This rich selection of content available at the conference provided the attendees with a true insight into what has been done, what is being done and what could be done to truly help women find their feet in the world of technology. The event also featured 5 performances and 11 workshops. Each workshop spanned a number of topics from how to use Amazon services optimally to building a plant watering sensor in an Internet of Things crash course. The talks also gave insight into the many different ways that women are breaking the boundaries and forging new paths for themselves in tech as well the different ways that allies could be of help and work to support the Switch vision. A full recap of the conference can be found on the conference youtube page at bit.ly/switchconferencrecap. There were also a number of games played during which attendees got to win prizes and gifts specially curated by the team.
The driving force behind the creation of Switch was the identification of the lack of female role models and the inadequate motivation for women to be active participants in tech.
For this reason, Switch Conference was aimed at 3 things:
Creating a female tech community in Mauritius by bringing together women involved/interested in the technology sector
Motivate girls to join STEM by facilitating their interaction with inspiring female speakers from around the world in the field of technology
Enabling women interested in technology to meet mentors and interact with other women that would support them in their journeys.
The next steps include solidifying the mission by creating mentorship pairings for young women in tech with ladies who are much more advanced in their career, as well as organising events that create active engagement such as hackathons and makers workshops. The dedicated team that brought the conference to life consists of women who are passionate about technology, women and are working to create more opportunities for girls to realise that there is enough space to accommodate them in tech. Look out for more communication on coming activities.
How To Be A Part of This Movement
The dream to bring as many women as possible into tech is one that can not be achieved alone. Please contact the team if you would like to provide mentorship, participate in the next edition of the Switch Conference proposed to happen sometime in March 2020 or even donate and support the project in monetary ways. If you would also like to contribute by leading a tech makers session (these are small, capsule sessions currently being run on various topic areas in technology), please contact the team. There are many in which you can engage with Switch beyond the conference. Follow switch activities on your social media platforms:
Facebook: Switch Mauritius
Linkedin: Switch Conference Mauritius