Have you ever considered girls, who grew up, not knowing any women, who worked, in supposedly “male-dominated” professions? What effect might a lack of visible female leadership in these different professions have on the expectations that our girls, (and boys), set for the society they are growing up in?
How about the degree to which they police and silence any of their own intellectual curiosities that defy traditional gender roles? Who loses when our youths are not allowed and encouraged to pursue their innate passions?
In the field of technology, a sector, with the potentials to multiply opportunities for all, but conversely, with a serious gender problem, these questions are quite germane. Fortunately, here in Nigeria, efforts are being made by a couple of organisations to answer the gaps in talent and the hindrance of our collective imagination about what is possible for women.
Recently, I stumbled on the activities of a not-for-profit organisation called African Women on Board, and one area that caught my attention is their focus on helping more young people, particularly girls, to embrace Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. It is encouraging to have learnt that earlier in the year, AWB, teamed up with the Heartland Incubation Hub of the Oluaka Institute, a government-certified computer and technical training institution, based in Owerri, to support training programmes for young women and girls, age 5 and upwards, in areas of 2D gaming, animation, web pages and computer applications. This is indeed a welcome development and such initiatives ought to be supported.
The key benefit of programmes such as this is that it helps young people to build stuff by themselves and this is in turn creates a personal feeling that will help them truly believe in themselves. This is the joy that comes with the process of development, conceiving an idea, writing a few lines of code and then seeing it comes to life is simply phenomenal. AWB is clear on its mission and to ensure it continues on the track of impact, it has partnered with Imaginarium Creative, a concept design and creative studio that will assist in the recruitment of young women, particularly graduates and undergraduates to receive training in 2D and 3D animation.
Speaking on the partnership, Nkiru Balonwu, is of the opinion that what girls need at this point is simply the push and encouragement required for them to decide to take up tech-based roles.
“While many are locked out of education, many others are locked out of career opportunities because of years of stereotype and cultural conditioning. Through this gender-sensitive approach, we can push the lid and get as many women as possible into software-based training”, she added.
The benefit of technology and innovation is; and has always been the democratised launching pad that it offers to our ideas, regardless of one’s background, or circumstances. With countless study after study, showing the incredible economic losses of excluding women and girls from various sectors of society, the business case could not be clearer. As we live in a world where half the population is female, it becomes increasingly inexcusable for this global metric not to be reflected from the halls of power, down to the ground level.
AWB believes that, addressing the gaps in tech talent and the absence of stories, about influential African female leaders, across the globe has the potential to trigger the untapped genius of the continent. As a result, African women could be recognised and — Finish Reading on the Punch