TechWomen is an initiative of the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs which empowers, connects and supports the next generation of women leaders in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, STEM.
The TechWomen Alumni Association in Nigeria, a community of Nigeria’s Techwomen who are recipients of the TechWomen Award, in collaboration with the US Consulate, Lagos and the Entrepreneurship and Skills Development Center (ESDC), UNILAG, hosted their maiden conference yesterday, 17 December 2019.
The Conference was themed, ‘Advancing the Global Leadership of Nigerian Women in STEM.’Opening Remarks
The Deputy Vice-Chancellor, UNILAG, Professor Folashade Ogunsola, in her opening remarks, shared that emerging technologies will change many jobs and by 2030, 1.5 million jobs will be computer-science-related and 73% of all jobs being tech jobs.
This, she said, reveals that it is no longer an option to have women in tech but a necessity.
Relating a need for women to lose the fear of trying, she listed backwards-driving cultural and mindset programmings as some of the reasons for few women in the tech industry.
She also mentioned design thinking education and research and innovation labs as part of the ways the University is trying to change the situation for better.
US Consulate Address
The Consul General of the US Consulate, Lagos, Claire Pierangelo, sharing that the US promotes the rights of women and girls and have immersed lots of money to this effect, revealed that Techwomen exists to create networks to help women succeed and link other women to female mentors, so they can see others who have done what they want to do.
Sharing how the knowledge she gained growing up surrounded by boys had helped her over the years, the consul general iterated that knowledge is key but network to share the possessed knowledge is power.
The Keynote Speech titled, ‘Diversity in the Tech Sector: Empowering Women in STEM and Encouraging Inclusion in the Industry’, was given by the Council Member, Energy Institute (UK), the Executive Director, Lonadek Inc., and a Forbes Africa Rising Star 2019, Dr Ibilola Amao.
Dr Amao, stating the obvious, that women and girls in the STEM fields are lower than their male counterparts, argued that having more female leaders helps to boost performance in companies.
Calling on women to quit complaining about their male counterpart, but should, instead, give them a run for their money. She shared that women should ask themselves the right questions which would direct them in the right part when it comes to being involved with tech and STEM.
She continued by saying that we are moving into an age of predictive designs which is hinged in data and so women should invest time in learning, technology and knowledge acquisition.
Sharing the importance of the right networks, team playing and personal time, she encouraged the listeners to learn to compete and collaborate at the same time, revealing the need for balance.
She ended by sharing that with solving the right equations, many problems, including that of a filthy Lagos, can be solved, in what she called a ‘Filth to Wealth process’.
The Conference had two conferences which had Techpreneurs and Techwomen fellows as moderators and discussants.
The first panel was moderated by the Techwomen fellow, Tech Evangelist and Founder, Girls Voices Initiative, Carolyn Seaman and tackled ‘How do we Empower Women and Girls in Technology’
The second panel was moderated by the Techwomen fellow, CEO BusinessBrace 360 and Co-Founder, Podex Associates, Busayo Durojaiye and tackled ‘Building Confident Techpreneurs’
There were three breakout groups:
- For industry and career in Tech – Soft skills necessary for women in tech careers.
- For STEM education and Academia – STEM education and career in academics (for undergraduate and postgraduate students)
- For entrepreneurs – Tech Startups, Techpreneurship / Tech Social Entrepreneurship.
A guide was also given on how to go through the Techwomen Emerging Leaders Application.
The Techwomen Nigeria Alumni Conference 2019, shared insights and deliberations on bringing more Nigerian women into the tech world.
Considering that 45% of the labour force in Nigeria are women, these deliberations should be taken seriously if Nigeria would be relevant in the future workforce.
[COVER PHOTO CAPTION]
L-r: CEO, Smids Animation Studios, Damilola Solesi; Founder, Pearls Africa Youth Foundation, Abisoye Akinfolarin; Council Member, Energy Institute (UK) and Executive Director, Lonadek Inc., Dr Ibilola Amao; US Consul General, Claire Pietrangelo; UNILAG DVC, Development Services, Professor Folashade Ogunsola; Techwomen fellow and Associate Prof and Director, Entrepreneurship and Skills Development Centre (ESDC), UNILAG.