On February 28th, the Women’s Technology Empowerment Centre hosted a panel at the annual social media week in Lagos. Our panel started with the moderator, our Executive Director – Oreoluwa Somolu Lesi presenting a survey that was administered at our She Creates Mainland Camp. The Survey, found that 89.8% of the girls access the internet via a mobile phone and 71.4% have access to a mobile phone. The Survey found that more girls have access to a mobile phone than any other device. The girls were asked about the activity they do the most online and we found that chatting with friends was the activity they engage in the most. In addition Facebook turned out to be the social media tool they use the most. Our Executive Director also highlighted that 71.6% of the girls believe that STEM careers are for men and 22.4% of the girls would be encouraged if they knew a woman working in STEM.
The panel was comprised by Simi Olusola – Executive Director at Aspilos Foundation, Toyosi Akerele Ogunsiji – Founder of Rise Networks, Kafayat Adeoye – I.T Support Specialist at Eko-Konnect Research/Education Initiative and Temilade Adelakun – STEM Advocate. The panel tagged “Women build technology too” kicked off with Simi Olusola explaining that some technologies are not made to accommodate women such as seat belts not being suited for pregnant women and the female frame. Mrs Toyosi discussed her work, highlighting that she is working on Technology for Terrorism which help mitigate the fact that women and their children are some of first to be killed during attacks. She also stated that if women are included in the technological process, then they would build more human centred design thinking.
Ms Temilade shared an inspiring story of how she got involved in STEM from wanting to be a medical doctor because it was trendy to studying engineering because a teacher noticed her good mathematics grades. She stated that she faced criticism from brothers and male figures like many young girls her age but she didn’t yield to any of it. She highlighted her commitment to ensuring other young girls get into STEM by her constant volunteering in schools in her community.
Mrs.Ore then posed the question of how we can build diverse/inclusive development teams? because research shows that within the first ten years women leave the STEM field. Ms. Kafayat stated that companies need to review workplace strategies and recruitment processes. She cited an example that guys mostly get asked questions/their opinions before ladies. Mrs Simi further stated that if you are not being asked for your contributions at your office, then take it to the table.
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There was a Question and Answer section afterwards where the following questions were asked
- What about Animation? Mrs. Toyosi said that Animation is seen as more of a creative field and harder sciences seems to always get funded first. She also said a way to integrate animation is to for example, build a machine learning framework and use animation to bring it to life.
- How are we teaching people to use these technologies?
- What can be done to bring more women into the conversation?
Overall, the panel was a success and most attendee’s felt it was informative. They were 42 attendee’s in total and a good number stated that they gained something new from the panel.