The 2017 Girls in ICT Day which was celebrated by Pearls Africa and GirlsCoding with an event themed “Bridges and Walls in STEM” was a great one indeed as the event was open to girls as well as boys in ICT. The turnout was great as there were students from the university and those who were planning to veer into ICT related careers.
The event, which was hosted by Kachi – a Lady in Tech – featured a brief introduction to the importance of the Girls in ICT Day, tech stories from the Mentors, a Panel discussion and a QnA session.
On the panel of Mentors were Damilola Solesi (founder, CEO and creative director of SMIDS Animation Studios Nigeria), Nnenna Nwakanma (Senior Policy Manager for the World Wide Web Foundation), Eleanor Sarpong (the Deputy Director – Policy Lead, Alliance for Affordable Internet), Craig Fagan (Policy Director of the Web Foundation), Simi Olusola (CEO of Aspilos Foundation), Basheerhamad Shadrach (Coordinator for Asia, Alliance for Affordable Internet) and Erica Penfold (Research Analyst, Alliance for Affordable Internet).
The Panel discussion which had Dami Solesi and Simi Olusola sitting to tell their tech stories opened the minds of all present to the fact that the battle for gender equality did not just start and that it is a long way from ending. According to them, the most important thing the girls have and should hold on to is the community of girls in ICT. The girls were warned to not go against the wishes of their parents but instead to do everything in moderation and with due respect.
The fact that one is female and in the field of tech and has to keep proving one’s self over and over again just to show one is capable, shouldn’t be seen as a negative but as a plus which is a part of one’s success story.
The panel session was followed by more tech stories from the Mentors. Craig Fagan said on of the greatest lessons he has learnt was from looking at his wife. This lesson is simply that nobody and nothing can stop a woman who is on the path of greatness.
Nnenna spoke passionately to the girls about making sure they are focused and not be distracted by boys, movies and latest trends. She took it a step further to making the girls promise that they would remain chaste for the foreseeable future and encouraged them not to be discouraged if they were looked down on because of their gender.
Erica who didn’t know about the troubles girls and women in ICT faced, quickly had a change of mind when she joined the team of Web Foundation and had this to add: “if you will just keep going despite the voices around you, there is nothing you cannot do or achieve”.
For B. Shadrach, technology is a fast paced field that is taking over the way even mundane activities are carried out and thus, he encouraged the girls to learn all they can, while they can and run with it.
A well learned lesson was that there is as much knowledge to be gained when learning as much as there is when sharing with others. Another valuable lesson was that the computer doesn’t know whether its operator is female or male and as such, girls need to put their all into doing the necessary so they can have a great turnout.
There was time for the girls in attendance to have one-on- one talks with their Mentors about the best ways to break walls and build bridges in STEM.
The Girls in ICT Day event wasn’t just about talks and stories, there was also the Photo-Op session and food in excess for all.