Surayyah Ahmad, Ethco Group Ltd co-founder and Executive Secretary of Startup AREWA has discussed the underrepresentation of Nigerian women in the tech industry, and women’s effective participation and equal opportunities for leadership at all levels of decision-making in the tech ecosystem. She identified several important elements that can raise women’s involvement in technology and help the nation achieve a balanced workforce.
“Studies from all across the world are showing that women are underrepresented in the tech industry, despite recent headlines concentrating on tech hiring sprees and the underrepresentation of diverse populations. Although the reasons for this differ, it is known that many people’s decision to seek a career in technology dates back to their elementary school years,” she says.
Women hold only 18% of undergraduate computer science degrees and 26% of computing occupations, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Since the 1990s, there has been a decrease in the proportion of women working in computer science-related fields, from 35% to 26% between 1990 and 2013. According to the United Nations, only one in five experts in technical disciplines like artificial intelligence are women.
Only 16% of females at the pre-university level have had tech occupations recommended to them, and only 3% of them originally planned to pursue careers in technology, according to a recent report by Price Waterhouse Coppers (PwC) survey on women in technology. This figure is less in conservative regions such as Northern Nigeria, which, according to a World Bank report, could take more than 40 years to catch up with the country’s southern region.
Regardless of the disparity in accessing opportunities, women are starting to develop ideas and lead change through technology in their immediate contexts, despite the disparities in access. Things are gradually changing as more young women become interested in technology. Despite the underrepresentation of women in the tech industry globally, women have demonstrated a remarkable capacity to advance society, such as by reviving small and medium-sized businesses in Nigeria.
Surayyah cited two sisters in Nigeria as an example of this achievement of women in technology. The sisters took the initiative to create an app, which would provide technical support to micro, small, and medium-sized businesses. According to the sisters, Kesandu and Dumebi Nwokolo, the app is intended to assist budding entrepreneurs and serve as a stepping stone that will increase visibility and ostensibly display these abilities, goods and services to the world.
Ms. Odunayo Eweniyi, the Co-founder of Piggy Vest, has opined that in Africa, the normative beliefs that put women in subordination to men as a culture while encouraging patriarchy have put women on the sidelines of critical decision-making around the world. She says, “The lack of women in tech can’t be explained away by innate biological differences. It is really down to a combination of systemic bias, men funding men, and a working culture that excludes women.”
Surayyah states that more women from Northern Nigeria are coming up with programs to help Northern women get into tech. Start-up Kano run by Aisha Tofa, the Brief Academy run by Farida Yahya, and TTlabs are currently some of the female-led institutions driving the inclusion of northern women in technology, mostly by providing mentoring and sponsorship to technology institutions.
Giving girls early access to technology is a good start, but it’s never too late to give women the chance to get the experience they need to start a career in technology. Organizations can create valuable technical talent development programs that promote women and help diversity in representation and ideas, which frequently results in even greater innovation.
“Through job shadowing or internships, these programs give women a chance to learn technical skills that they can use in real life. Participants can learn useful information and meet other people who are interested in the same things they are. Even the experience gained can help develop their talents and launch a technological career,” Surayyah said.
About Startup AREWA
Startup AREWA was established to organize, empower and promote the Northern Nigeria technology and Startup Ecosystem, with the overarching goal of using technology and startups as a strategy to combat unemployment and poverty across the Northern Nigeria.
From the first Bootcamp at Bello Memorial Foundation Hall in Kaduna to a series of over 20 Bootcamps across Northern Nigeria, engaging over 5000 Startups with support from innovators and public-private leaders, Startup AREWA is implementing its strategic plan of promoting and providing real-time support to Startups.
Official website: https://startuparewa.ng