In Nigeria, many women are making waves in the tech community, although the representation of women in the tech space in Nigeria could still be better. I remember growing up, most of us as young women kept away from STEM courses (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) as we felt they were strictly for men. Women who studied STEM courses were usually said to be gamine.
Things are changing, however; more young girls are developing interest in STEM courses and building careers in information technology. Notwithstanding, issues such as poverty, cultural biases towards girl-child education, and inadequate mentorship are some factors keeping female representation in tech low. This has given rise to associations like ‘Women in Technology’ and others, whose primary goal is to get more women into the tech space.
Organizing hackathons and getting more women to participate
Getting more women involved in events like hackathons is a good way to get them into tech-related careers. Hackathons are exploratory programming events where people gather to take a shot at solving technical problems. It can also be an event where a certain product needs to be built and delivered to create a fully functioning prototype. It gathers project managers, designers, developers, and programmers to work together on various software projects. While it has a somewhat competitive spirit, the main goal of hackathons is creativity; creating something new and extraordinary. Today, hackathons are a normal way for programmers from all over the world to keep abreast of technological advancements.
Catching them at a tender age
Cultural biases and ancient narratives that keep women out of STEM courses need to be pulled down completely and more girls supported to take a chance at these precursor programs that lead to a career in information technology. Helping young girls get comfort with STEM subjects from an early age will give them the courage to pursue tech-related careers or build tech-related businesses in adulthood. In Nigeria, a number of governmental initiatives, NGO programmes and associations (such as WITIN) are doing a lot to empower young girls with technical skills. However, there is room for a lot more to be done.