According to a 2017 report from United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), only 8% of women enroll in engineering, construction, manufacturing, and even fewer, in information and communications technology (3%). This number drops further at the graduate school level.
This disparity in educational achievement means that women are underrepresented globally in workforce technology roles at all levels. For example, women make up less than 30% of the world’s researchers and publish less. On the industry side, this shows that we are significantly underutilizing a key segment of the potential workforce and is detrimental to achieving the continent’s growth and development. More concerted efforts are therefore required to help women gain knowledge, access, and active participation in STEM education and careers.
Women in STEM studies have proven that mentorship and intentional motivation have been impactful in making STEM more accessible and exciting, and building on the aspiration of the confirmation that women can build successful careers on the same.
“If I had a role model in high school to guide me, I would have taken interest in STEM then. It was only at the undergraduate level that I decided to have a career in IT.” Arlette Houndji, first-year Master of Science in Information Technology student and chair of the Women in Tech club at CMU-Africa.
The Women in Tech (WIT) club at CMU-Africa was recently involved in one such initiative to mentor young women. WIT, in partnership with CyLab-Africa’s picoCTF-Africa competition, visited Gashora Girls Academy and held a technical session on basic programming, cryptography, and web challenge solving using Linux operating system. Subsequent visits will incorporate mentorship sessions.
The Women in Tech club at CMU-Africa is a community of women who are developers and technologists interested in increasing the participation of women and girls in ICT. Its main aims are to develop strategies to engage more girls in technology, leverage opportunities to build their careers and build leadership capacity. We organize different activities including Women Techmakers, Django Girls, Women in Machine Learning, among others