Nigerian Girls in Tech Space: To What Use?

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The 4th Thursday in the month of April every year has been marked to celebrate Girls in ICT day. This is an effort of International Telecom Union(ITU) to create a global environment that empowers & encourages girls and young women to consider careers in the field of Information & Communication Technology. Here comes another opportunity to remind ourselves the vast possibilities ICT can provide to our girls and give them the confidence to pursue Information Communication Technology careers. This article argues that more girls in Nigeria tech Space is essential to the competitiveness of our digital economy.

I think it’s very important to get more women into computing. My slogan is: Computing is too important to be left to men.
Karen Sparck Jones, Professor at Cambridge Computer Laboratory

Having more Girls in Nigeria Tech Space, to what use?

Successful women working in the digital sector are still a rarity – be it in Europe, Australia, Asia, the American continent, or Africa. The reason for this skills shortage is that many of our young girls are only taught how to use some sort of technology; instead of equipping them with the skills to write software & design apps. We want Girls who want to create programs and this is a real wake up call for all the actors in the Tech ecosystem.

Nigeria needs a competitive economy to get out of recession. ICT is one of the area of competitiveness to better drive the economy. The Nigeria Girls need to be familiar with rigorous computing principles if the economy is to be competitive over the long term. With more of our Girls in tech space, Nigeria would move from tech consumers to tech creators which will diversify the workforce and strengthen our economy.

New disruptive digital business models have led to internet sales in Nigeria and the Female gender are left to wonder on how things work despite their entrepreneurial spirit. The Technical talents shortage among our girls have discourage them in using the computer technologies to bring about new business models. The rise of e-commerce and e-initiatives are driven by their male counterparts. This drama must not continue as this has kill many ideas in the heart of our Girls who want to prove a point in the Tech Space. There is need for inclusion.

Computing is not just for techies. Many Companies have been able to generate more money for the company because their managers know how to apply digital technology to create business value.Our young women who are a mid-level managers and senior managers must understand how technologies can create business value for their organization as this will make them relevant and stay competitive on their job. Girls are much more detail oriented. This diversity can be a great strength in meetings, team collaboration and how a company develops partnership. This strength can help them provide a much more technical leadership by coding, coaching, architecture, sketching and just enough up front design which forms the part of interaction that happens in our Tech ecosystem.

In addition to this, Women make up half the world’s population, they use technology as much as men, and they are innovative technical thinkers-so if we want the best technology that we can get, we need diversity at the design table. Designing for inclusion must take its place and it is the girls that can better drive this.

Lastly, the economy impact and job growth of attractinggirls to Tech Space is of great importance.Tech oriented job is a tops paying jobs and they are growing at two times the national average. Our girls will be better off by having the confidence that they are also contributing to the national Gross Domestic (GDP) through their skills. It is high time our girls stopped depending on their male counterpart for everything.

There is a marked uptick in digital revolution and therefore; the necessity of getting more girls into the Nigeria Tech Space is apparent. Time is running out and so the Government and every concern stakeholders need to start focusing on education that engage and empower girls in Technology.

I never believed I could or couldn’t do something because I was a woman. Focus on being the best that you possibly can be. All the people I’ve worked with, they’re looking for people who are the best at what they do. If you as a woman or a man can prove to them that you are the best at what you do, they respect you for that, and they’ll empower you to succeed.
Privahini Bradoo, Co-Founder and CEO of BlueOak

We may need to do more.

We need initiatives that will break barrier and build bridge that support career advancement in ICT. What ITU has done is to provide leadership in this direction by providing a template upon which many result-oriented initiatives can be built.
Key to this is the adoption of Computer Science as a core STEM subject. Computer Science combines the methodologies of science, engineering, technology and mathematics. Computer Science plays a major role in all employment sectors, e.g., finance, entertainment, academia, health, retail, education, defence, government, etc. Computer Science should be giving the recognition that Subjects like Mathematics, Physics, Biology & Chemistry also has. We need to start this early and get our Girls attracted to this subjects like we have always did for Mathematics, Physics, Biology & Chemistry.
The pace of technology change is accelerating and the female gender is far great behind. Nigerian Girls need to be at the centre of development. Their capacity need to be developed, so that they can create wealth through ICT. It will not be proper if our girls with well-developed skills stuck at lower levels of being a mere technology literate and users.

 

Final Word to the Girls: reach for the Stars; they are closer than you think.

The world we live now are in dire need of creative extremist and the Girls must also key in. Let’s move from spectator of users to being a champion of developer. Now is the time for the Girls to take their rightful place as Techies in global communities. Having taking in a great deal of evidences, it is safe to conclude that Nigeria has a strong supply of Girls capable of creating the technology of the future with right ingredients for a very Solid Tech ecosystem.

Further Reading
1. Oladayo Akinwande (2016) “Why our Girls Should Code” Available on www.yinigeria.com.ng/wps/2016/09/26/why-our-girls-should-code
2. Techbridge (2016) “Changing the Game for Girls in STEM” A white paper on Best practices and learnings from Leaders in the field

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Oladayo Tosin Akinwande is a graduate Student of Computer Science department from Federal university of Technology, Minna where his current research are network security, intrusion detection system and artificial immune system. Tosin also secured an enrolment into the Microsoft Student partner program making him the first Microsoft Student Partner (MSP) in Federal university of technology, Minna. Currently He co-founded a Technology start-up called TechPoix Solutions where he deploy himself as the Chief-responsible-Officer. He is also a Co-founder of Ahead Consults; a Tech-Edu and Media Company. At his free time, Tosin enjoy writing about the issue of governance and politics in Nigeria.