Despite the efforts put in place to diversify the tech workplace, there still exists a huge gender gap within the space. Deloitte Global predicts that large global technology firms, on average, will reach nearly 33% overall female representation in their workforces in 2022; which is merely a 2% improvement from 2019. In the same light, the Womentech Network predicts that it will take about 28 years before the economic gender gap can be closed.
Despite the fact that investment in the African tech space has skyrocketed since 2013, the proportion going to all-female founding teams has changed very little. According to Briter Bridges, since
2013 till 2021, only 3 percent of funding went to all-female founding teams, compared with 76 percent of funding that went to all-male teams.
But that has not stopped women from pushing hard to become relevant in the space. Rather, it has inspired campaigns and triggered more women to not only join but find ways to attract more women into the ecosystem. The question of how to bring more women into tech has been a global one on so many lips and a lot more hands are coming on deck to help pull in new catches.
This week’s episode of The Hub welcomed the team lead for the Jos Tech Girls, Sonia Atsen, who shared her views on this specific topic.
Jos Tech Girls
Jos Tech Girls is an initiative managed by women and targeted at training women within Plateau state (in North Central Nigeria) who are interested in joining the tech space.
“It is a platform for every woman in Jos irrespective of your educational background. The goal is to connect women in teach”, said Loreta Katok Tohomdet, Founder, Jos Tech Girls.
Over the span of about 3 years, the team of female tech-enthusiasts has hosted a series of bootcamps, virtual events; including the recently concluded “My Journey into Tech” event which was held in Jos on the 29th of April, 2022.
During the chat with the Hub, Sonia had emphasized that it isn’t enough to bring women into tech—a space largely considered to be a man’s world—to be left to struggle on their own. Rather, she maintains that there is a need to help these women find their place in the ecosystem and offer them a fair chance to prove their relevance. This, according to her, is what Jos Tech Girls is all about.
Laying a foundation:
“It starts with the mind,” she said. “You have to tell yourself that you can do this. Inasmuch as it is a Man’s world, you have to be relevant. So we start by convincing these women that they are capable, before sending them into the real world.”
The team of tech mentors not only coach these women, but also connect them with employers and other tech specialists who inspire and help raise each other up in the field.
“We have girls/women whom we have connected in the tech world. We just want to connect more women on the Plateau into tech,” the team lead asserted.
According to Omobola Johnson—Senior Partner at TLcom Capital and former Nigerian Minister of Communication Technology— in a case study titled “The Diversity Dividend: Female Fund Managers in Africa“, the phrase “women in tech”, isn’t all about producing female engineers and developers. She believes that It’s more about getting young women ready to see that technology can and must underpin and complement their business ideas.
Grooming role models:
Over the decade, the Nigerian tech ecosystem has seen women push past barriers and break through glass ceilings meant to hold them down and Sonia believes that the existence of these powerful women can be harnessed to empower other women outside the space.
Women like the CEO of Flying Doctors Nigeria, Olamide Brown Orekunrin who was the youngest person ever to win the Silverbird Group Extraordinary Business Achievement Award in 2018; Edukoya’s Honey Ogundeyi who in 2016 was listed in the World Economic Forum’s 10 Most Influential Young Nigerians Under 40 in Tech and Damilola Odufuwa, Binance’s Head of Product Communications who made British Vogue’s 2020 list of people who changed Global Business.
“Most times, I meet men who are willing to mentor women in Jos Tech Girls and I tell them “no” for now. Because I want these girls to see that it’s a woman taking them and if she’s that good, then they too can also be good,” she said.
Sonia further encouraged young women to not just focus on the pay or fame but pay close attention to the quality of products they deliver because that is what will define them. She also advised that rather than starting from hard skills like coding and programming, it would be wiser to gain soft digital skills that will be useful even outside the tech space.
In the end, technology has already crept into every sector of the world’s economy and only those who know how to skillfully utilize its potentials can become successful.