“Any society that fails to harness the energy and creativity of its women is at a huge disadvantage in the modern world”. Tian Wei
The need for the advocacy for more women participation, in technology, particularly, in STEM education can’t be overemphasised.
Africa is, not left out of the conversation as, the TechWomen Nigeria, in collaboration, with the US Consulate, Lagos and ESDC, alongside the University of Lagos, hosted its inaugural edition, of its TechWomen Nigeria Alumni Conference.
The tech gathering, saw women, from different technology-related professions, as well as, young female technology enthusiasts, converge at the Tayo Adenirokun Hall, University of Lagos, on Tuesday, December 17, 2019.
The theme of the conference was; “Advancing the global leadership of Nigerian women, in STEM”. The event witnessed Dr. Joy Agene, Natural Resources Management Specialist, World Bank Group and Fellow of TechWomen, giving an overview, of what the female association is all about.
TechWomen bring emerging leaders, in the STEM field, from Africa, Asia and the Middle East. Together, they are paired, with vocational mentors, in Silicon Valley, to learn, network and build careers.
According to Agene, TechWomen, in the past 7 years, has recorded, over 600 women participants.
“We are here today because, one of the mandates of TechWomen is, to give back, build the tech career, expand networks and encourage the participation, of more young ladies”,
Agene noted, on the essence of the inaugural tech conference.
She further some objectives of TechWomen, which include:
Providing mentorship and exchange opportunities, for girls and women
Strengthening the path of women professionals
Increase network opportunities for women
Expand the interest of women, in technology
Delivering the welcome address, Prof. Oluwatoyin Ogundipe, Deputy Vice Chancellor, Development Services, University of Lagos, noted, how technology will soon change the future of work, stating that, the World Economic Forum predicts that, by 2030, about 1.5 million jobs, would be based on computer technology.
“This is a clear indication that it is not, just an option, to have women in tech, but it is, necessary, for survival and development”, Ogundipe stressed.
“Africa needs every one of us, (women), to leapfrog because, technology has given us, the chance”, she reiterated.
In another address, by Claire Pierangelo, Consul General, US Consulate, Lagos, expressed her delight, at the tech conference, while stating the United States’ previous role, in supporting Nigeria’s female leaders, in the field of STEM.
“TechWomen, strengthens participants, in their professional capacity and increases mutual understanding, between a network of professionals”, she stressed.
Pierangelo decried the low participation of females, in STEM, stating the 30% level of participation, as quoted by UNESCO. The result of this low participation has reduced the potential dominance, of the female gender, in the world of science.
“One of the reasons for STEM is, to change the attitude and challenge stereotypes”, she noted.
In her closing remarks, Pierangelo encouraged, all participants in the tech conference, to re-ignite their passion, in STEM, while stating that the gathering is, a valuable platform for them, to network with the Fellows, of the TechWomen.
Delivering the keynote address, on the topic; “Diversity in the tech sector: Empowering women in tech and encouraging inclusion in the industry”, Dr. Ibilola Amao, Council Member, Energy Institute, UK, also, decried the low participation of women, in technology.
Reports indicate that only 35% of women, globally, participate in STEM. She, however, stated the need, for more women’s involvement.
She stated that going by the result of a research conducted, having more female leaders, boosts cooperation, performance and share prices, in organizations.
“If we acknowledge that, 30% women participation in management and leadership level at work, improves the performance of companies, then, it goes without saying that, if we increase women’s participation, the situation in Nigeria, will become better “, Amao noted.
“Women are nation builders and nurturers; we hold the key, to a brighter future for Nigeria and Nigerians. If we collapse our silos and put resources, potentials, talents and competencies together, most thoroughly, in STEM and IT, I am confident that, herein lies the power, to disrupt Nigeria, from a downward spiral.
My charge to all today is to innovatively apply the knowledge we have, as individuals and teams, to become power changers, for a better society, Nigeria and world at large”, Amao concluded.
At the event was also a panel session moderated by Carolyn Seaman another fellow of the TechWomen group, the session centered its discussion on “How do we Empower Women and Girls in Technology”. Panelists included Dr. Ayodele Shittu, Abisoye Akinfolarin and Damilola Solesi
Another panel session moderated by another TechWomen Fellow, Busayo Durojaiye discussed on, “Building Confident Techpreneurs”. The panelists included Sunday Adebisi, Odunwole Longe, Olasimbo Sojinrin, Olamide Babajide and Oreoluwa Lesi