Do you know that Augusta Ada King-Noel, the Countess of Lovelace was the first to recognise that the Computer had applications beyond pure calculation? She published the first algorithm intended to be carried out by the machine. As a result, she is often regarded as the first to recognise the full potential of a “computing machine” and the first computer programmer.
As intriguing as that sounds, women’s participation today in the technological workforce is limited. Consider an instance. Apple, Google and Microsoft, the juggernauts of technology and leaders of the liberal tech world have 31%, 32% and 26% of female employees respectively. What then is the fate of the upcoming tech companies?
Recently, an employee in Google was sacked for accusing the search engine of gender inequality. Here is his claim about gender gap in tech;
“The distribution of preferences and abilities of men and women differ in part due to biological causes. These differences may explain why we don’t see equal representation of women in tech and leadership.” -James Damore.
How true is the above statement?
Although the gender inequality issue is being tackled, it is quite apparent that the tech industry is yet to catch up. Women are underrepresented in the industry, from web designers to software developers/engineers, database Experts and others. As sad as this may look and sound, there are however some women in the field of technology who are covering grounds and breaking norms. Some of them include Nnenna Nwakanwa (African Coordinator of the World Wide Web Foundation), Rebecca Enonchong (2014 Forbes list article on Female Tech Founders to watch in Africa), Mary Uduma (Her leadership in the Nigeria Internet Registration Association that brought about the “dot ng” domain in Nigeria),Funke Opeke (C.E.O Main One Cable), Bilikiss Adebiyi-Abiola (Wecyclers) and many others. Despite all odds, women like these abound.
Who then imposed the science-related limitations on women?
In recent times, strategies, policies and methods are being put in place by the Government, firms, organisations and even individuals to bridge the gender inequality in the tech world. Conferences, seminars, campaigns and talks have and are being done to not only raise the awareness but also to elicit the desired response.
As a practical example, the Ondo State first lady, Betty Anyanwu Akeredolu recently concluded a one-month summer ICT training for young girls in secondary schools. The main idea behind this initiative was “catching them young.” It is no doubt a good way to start. We have Django girls, Nigerian women techsters(NWT) was recently launched to train over 2000 women between the ages of 18 to 40 in coding and analytical skills across 12 states in Nigeria and a whole lot of other projects.
In addition, “Women in Tech” is an organization that has been running a bi-annual tech forum for women since 2013. The aim of this forum is to promote technology careers for women. The community offers a broad range of support, programs and resources to advance women in technology from the classroom to the boardroom.
Also, the largest technology-based women group in Africa, Women in Tech Africa (WITA) has a sole mission of supporting female leadership and creating a pipeline for girls to choose Technology. In collaboration with MTN, WITA officially launched the MTN Girl Code Bootcamp which aims at teaching tech and business principles.
As if that’s not enough, a worldwide community called Tech Ladies has a mission of connecting ladies with tech opportunities and connecting tech companies with the best tech makers.
“The first step towards change is awareness. The second step is acceptance” -Nathaniel Branden
Yes, all these are on ground but…are women really ready to challenge the gender inequality by proving they’ve got all it takes to dominate the field? How interested are the women in technology?
In the words of Nisha Maharaj, a South African, “Women in tech are admired. Go and make things happen!”