Why we need more women in tech in Nigeria

| May 31, 2019

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Tech4Dev (Technology for Social Change and Development) initiated The Nigerian Women Techsters program, a program to train 2,400 women on programming skills in Nigeria.

The numbers are shocking: women make up less than 22% of the total number of engineering and technology university graduate in Nigeria. Data from the National Bureau of statistics show that between the past three years, the figure of women graduating with a qualification in computer science has declined.

Why does this under-representation of women matter? Research has shown that teams perform far better when Individuals from different genders, races, backgrounds, and experiences bring diverse perspectives to create solutions. They bring innovative solutions to whichever problems they are tackling, and Nigeria needs these innovations for development.

The fourth industrial revolution is upon us; given the changes that are coming with the technology revolution, all hands should be on deck. The skills that women bring to the table are now profitable and vital; women can understand body language, ability to make the team, mentor people, and generally emotional intelligence. Everyone will benefit when companies and groups have a diverse workforce. The number of jobs in the programming world is steadily increasing, 90% of the jobs in the next ten years will require technology skills and knowledge. World economic forum recently released a report of how the future of work is going to take several jobs with automation and computing. These jobs are also well paid because these fields are crucial to reaping the reward of an automated future, which include higher standards of living, access to education, improved healthcare, and geometric economic growth. Programming/digital skills are also crucial in dealing with the environmental impact of digitalization such as climate change, reorientation of job sector, desolation, cybercrime. These make it highly significant that women reap the benefits and are involved in finding solutions to these problems.

Some of the reasons why women participation in digital skills is low are harassment, peer pressure, lack of role models, lack of encouragement, lack of programming opportunities. It has been proved that it is not an ability issue. Women from local areas in Nigeria face prejudice twice over the male folks; in some areas, girls still struggle to access basic education and also acceptance in the workplace.

Many women in Nigeria are rising to rectify this situation, which has been bringing positive result with an increase in the number of women programmers in Nigeria.

There is a need for more opportunities to learn the skills needed for the future of work and not only to learn but also provide mentoring, employment opportunities and business resources to women in underserved communities in Nigeria.

Nigerian women Techsters program has since inception trained over 1,200 women in programming skills which include sessions in web and mobile development, embedded systems and games development. With feedback from the beneficiaries, it is evident that women want to make a difference in the world. These women place a high value on careers that involve working with people and creating solutions that ultimately improve their lives and their community.

We put this into practice by creating a project challenge (demo) for the beneficiaries that entails creating solutions to solve any of the sustainable development goals. The project has since had significant success with an emphasis on using technology on problem-solving, sustainable impact, and collaboration.