In late April, YTF held two Girls in ICT Day events in Lagos and Imo State in partnership with Cisco to encourage and inspire Nigerian girls to pursue careers in ICT (information and communications technology).
Meeting with over 450 girls (50 in Lagos and 400 in Imo State), we showcased 3D printing technology, which most of the girls hadn’t previously had access to, and held discussions around engaging girls in STEM, particularly in the Nigerian cultural context.
The highlight of the Imo State event was a keynote speech by Chinyere Kalu, Nigeria’s first female pilot. She shared her journey along the way, particularly the obstacles she faced and overcome as a female in a male dominated field, which left many girls inspired.
She noted the important role of the government and educators in encouraging girls to pursue STEM careers, and shared that she is now dedicating her life to advocating for gender equality in STEM fields.
We were so inspired by the intelligent, ambitious girls we met, we wanted to introduce some of them:
Promise, a junior from Queen’s College, Lagos, aspires to be an entrepreneur in the fashion industry. She confessed that her parents want her to become a lawyer instead, but that she hopes to convince her parents through her hard work in school and dedication to her vision. She’s very interested in acquiring ICT skills as she recognizes their importance in business, and is thankful that the Girls in ICT day event allowed her to learn about 3D printing technology.
Elizabeth, a 14-year-old student from Nigeria Navy Secondary School, Lagos, is passionate about fashion design. She says that access to the Internet has allowed her to learn about international fashion trends, an experience that has allowed her to realize the usefulness of technology. She’s eager to learn new technology skills, and says she’s particularly interested in how 3D printing can be used in the fashion industry.
Blessing, a Federal Government Girls’ College student, says that she wasn’t sure about her dream career but that she’s inspired to follow Captain Kalu’s footsteps and become a pilot. She also says that she plans to register at the YTF Academy to learn about ICT and that she hopes to be able to give a talk in front of a large gathering like another YTF Academy student did.
Something that many girls had in common was that their parents wanted them to go into medicine or law. One reason is that parents don’t have adequate information about careers in ICT/entrepreneurship. In fact, during career days at schools, only careers in medicine, law, ingénierie, and management sciences are showcased. Girls themselves don’t have easy access to information in careers in ICT or entrepreneurship.
The Girls in ICT day event offered the girls the rare chance to experience the latest technology, learn about ICT careers, and be inspired by women leaders in ICT.
Engaging girls in ICT is something that’s near and dear to our heart, and we are hopeful that our efforts are helping launch the next generation of Nigerian women ICT leaders.