Feminique

Exposing girl-child to early tech skill’s acquisition

The International Day of the Girl Child, which was marked on October 11, 2021, with the theme: “Digital Generation, Our Generation,” focused on how to make the girl-child develop interest in the digital world. The day focuses attention on the need to address the challenges girls face and to promote girls’ empowerment. According to findings by the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated digital platforms for connecting, earning and learning. However, about 2.2 billion people below age 25 still do not have internet access at home, and girls are more likely to be cut off as the gender gap from global internet users grew from 11 percent in 2013 to 17 percent in 2019, about 43 percent in least developed countries around the world.

The findings also showed that it was more than connectivity as girls are also less likely than boys to use and own devices, gain access to tech related skills and jobs. An award winning Software Engineer and Tech Content Creator, Adora Nwodo, opines that efforts should be made towards ensuring the girl-child develops interest in Tech.

Nwodo said: “The boy-child is usually given an Xbox or PS3, to play video games, and then the girl-child is given Barbie dolls, tree houses and other toys, which are not technology related to play with. Most times, interest sparks from that young age and this doesn’t really happen for a lot of girls that grow into women. The society also has to change the, ‘women stay at home and raise your children,’ mentality in order to encourage more women to become tech savvy.” According to her, there are more women coming into tech now, but they are, however, still not as many as she would have loved.

A proof of this is a statistics from the National Bureau of Statistics, which proves that only 22 percent of graduates from technology and engineering departments in universities are females, the remaining 78 percent being males. Nwodo is one of the 22 percent that has decided to make a change as she had not only proven herself worthy in a male dominated career, but had also become a published author in the field with her book, ‘Cloud Engineering for Beginners,’ which has been receiving good reviews from male and female tech people. She explained that the book was inspired by the struggles she faced when she initially ventured into cloud engineering.

The book, she stated, has made learning cloud engineering, especially for females. Nwodo noted: “There are female tech organisations, and we need to come into these organisations, support them to encourage more women into tech. My book has received good reviews and a lot of people have been buying and distributing to those that cannot afford it. There are people that have the privilege and those that don’t. People that have privileges are not exactly interested because of the way tech is portrayed to them. It’s presented in a geeky way, which is not true. “At the end of the day, tech people are regular human beings, who are just building software and applications.

We need more tech role models to show that tech is like every other job. We need women to see more tech women, who they can look up to. Imagine if someone like Oprah Winfrey was a tech person that will encourage more girls to go into tech. This is because they’ll look up to her and will want their future to be like hers.” Ms. Omolola Odunowo, a Front- End Developer, UI/UX designer and an aspiring product manager, opines that tech demands patience and the tough spirit to keep trying after failing. She further said: “A lot of women still feel tech is ‘big stuff,’ which just anyone can understand.

I used to be one of these women, and I think the first step is to change the narrative by making tech attractive to the female gender and less frustrating to break into.” Odunowo explained that there was a satisfaction that comes with solving problems, and making life easier for others. She added: “We will appreciate the thrilling experience, when we stand side by side, with the men folks, competing in a field which rewards skills.”

A senior Editor with Opera News, Mr. Michael Abimboye, said: “Technology is broad. If you’re referring to building applications, we have few women in that field. But if you are talking about the use of technology, lots of Nigerian women are using it and they’re using it to improve their businesses.

However, parents have to expose their girl-child to technology early enough and enrol them in technology school, robotic classes, amongst others. Technology is a male dominated field, but if technology is made compulsory in primary and secondary schools, we may see more women in technology than we have today.” Another expert in tech issues is Dr. Qasim Akinreti, who is the Deputy Director Digital Media Voice of Nigeria, Part time lecturer, New Media and Digital Journalism, Nigerian Institute of Journalism (NIJ), Ogba, Lagos.

He is also a member, Nigerian Internet Group and Nigerian Internet Governance Forum. He said: “The girl-child or women are traditional and culturally marginalised from the technology revolution in Africa. Technology involves critical thinking, risks and more travelling in the traditional African society. It is believed that the professions suitable for the girlchild and women are teaching, home economics, catering, accounting, commerce and trade, as well as routine civil service work. In recreational choices in schools, the girl-child hovers around baking, sewing, hair plaiting, drama and singing. The boy-child on the other hand is given opportunity for creativity, gaming, engineering work and other masculine works. In technical educational programmes, the girl-child is not encouraged.”

 

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