Before being a young woman who plays a key role in supporting & empowering African Girls to take up STEAM Subjects and advocating for the importance of technology adoption and being innovative in everything they do. I was the type of young women who always thought Tech & Innovation was really a male thing, forget it being dominated by Men & Boys I genuinely thought that we were not built to take up such careers. And I think this was embedded in me from a very young age, especially in school where as soon as the teacher realised a student isn't good at math or any other science subject they paid less attention to find out why and more attention on the students who were automatically good at it. So with such an approach of course a lot of the girls resented STEAM subjects and stuck to those they were more inclined to it. But times are changing and being in the Tech & Innovation Industry there is an urgency and need for us to have more African Girls seeing Tech, Innovation and STEAM Subjects as paths that can be taken up by them.
So now the other question would be why do we need more African Girls to be techies & Innovators? Well for starters due to COVID-19 we have really been fast tracked into the 4th Industrial Revolution and heading into the 5th Industrial Revolution, now before we go deeper I know most of you are wondering what are you saying. The 4th Industrial Revolution is what we are in or experiencing right now, 'It's a fusion of advances in artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, the Internet of Things (IoT), 3D printing, genetic engineering, quantum computing, and other technologies.' While the 5th Industrial Revolution is what we also need to recognise and embrace, ' This is where humanism, civility, inclusivity, creativity and purpose will thrive alongside profit and digitally-enabled progress.' So do you see why we need more African Girls and Women to be techies and innovators because everything about the world and what surround's requires us to have knowledge and be active about it.
Now the larger question is; 'How do we convince and amplify the need for African Girls and Women to be Techies and Innovators?' I do believe there are many ways in which we can have more African Girls to be Techies and Innovators, here are a few ways in which I believe can be used to be more inclusive.
Designing Holistic Programs to support African Girls to be Techies and Innovators : Start Mentorship programs with big sister initiatives to empower girls to be confident and capable to take up STEAM subjects and be Techies who are innovators and problem solvers.
More InterSchool & Organisation competitions such as, 'Science shows, Tech Exhibits, Engineering showcases, Art Exhibits and Mathematics solution challenges, Hackathon and so much more.' This would promote healthy competitions among Girls with their inventions by using technological solutions.
Creation of more Scholarships, Seed Funds, Grants targeted specifically for African Girls and Women who either want to found start-ups or fund existing ones. Scholarship opportunities would be for those who want to continue their education in the Tech industry.
Training & Tutoring programs that will help African Girls see STEAM subjects as doable and normal subjects that Girls can take similar to social subjects.
Highlighting African Women in Tech and Innovators who are in the industry and breaking the glass ceiling to serve as an inspiration and motivation to the African Girls who are in school and have same dreams and aspiration or to those who thought it isn't possible.
Moreover, I was having this conversation with my friends the other day and once I convinced them of the importance of having holistic programs to fill in the gap that exists in the Tech and Innovation Industry when it comes to African Girls and Women the next question was, 'What really are the benefits of African Girls and Women being Techies and Innovators towards the industry as a whole?' And quiet frankly the benefits are immense however I shall share my top 3 because I do believe these are the most obvious and impactful as we keep breaking the stereotype in the industry :
Diversifying the Industry creates a positive ripple effect that boosts more Revenue in the companies; Boston Consulting Group (BCG) and the Technical University of Munich conducted a study to understand the relationship between diversity in management. The study showed that companies with the greatest gender diversity (those in which 8 out of every 20 managers were female) generated about 34% of their revenues from innovative products and services in the most recent three-year period. Now let me put in my African perspective, since time in memorial the African woman has been seen to be the one who is in charge of the household and managing everything that runs within the household including the input and it's output. This has really transcended all the way to our time now, back then it was on their own by themselves, Now if we diversify that energy and zeal and incoorpate it into the tech industry where innovation and productivity is a major contirbutor to the ROI in the companies and industry as a whole. It just proves my point of the need to Diversify the Industry and incorporate are more African Girls and Women to be Techies and Innovators.
Emotional Intelligent and Good Communicators; Naturally Females are communicators and are so often open to difference in opinions and perspectives when it comes to solving problems that need more that one solution. In the study mentioned above, data was collected from 55,000 professionals across 90 countries from 2011-2015 and across all levels of management. It showed that women scored highest when compared to men in self-awareness and empathy, and most closely on having a positive outlook. But women also scored higher on coaching & mentoring, influence, teamwork, and adaptability. So women are more inclined with their emotions and have learnt the art of being emotionally intelligent than their counterpart. And when we talk about an industry like Tech and Innovation Emotional intellienegnce is one of the elements that is missing out a lot in the industry due to the nature of the job and industry as a whole. More reason as to why we need to have more Girls and Women in the industry to balance it out but also introduce a type of intelligence that really plays a huge part when it comes to productivity and company gains.
More Role Models are Needed for Girls and Women to understand that the industry can incorporate both genders and if the existing women are breaking glass ceilings and pushing through so can any African Girl and Women.
Lets advocate for more African Girls to be Techies and Innovators so as we can easily access the competitive markets Locally, Continentally and Globally. Different interventions will change our mindset and be more open to new industries and challenge ourselves and promote diversity, but all of this has to be begin with me and you! The one's who already have access to the industry and to the knowledge in order for us to bring on board the generation that follows after us #SheCanInnovate.