Inclusivity: Bridging the digital gender Gap
In 2015, women held 57% of all professional occupations, yet they held only 25% of all computing occupations. And the numbers are even lower when considering women of color; Furthermore, even fewer women are found in software development, technology leadership, or the other kinds of key roles that have a significant influence on future innovation hence there is need to be an inclusive environment where more women are involved in the ICT fields.
Aisha Abdul-Qadir is born and raised in Mombasa ,She did her bachelors degree in Information Communication and Technology (ICT) at the Technical university of Mombasa,She always had the interest for computers and technology at a young age. She is passionate about inspiring girls in Mombasa to venture and learn ICT skills,Aisha is web developer and also loves computer networks and internet security.She learnt how to code on her own with fellow classmates while at the university. She is a co-founder and team member of Pwaniteknowgalz a social enterprise that inspires university and high school girls to take up STEM(Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics) related careers. “As in most of the world, girls and women in Kenya – especially in my community at the coast – feel like ICT and coding is a field for men”says Aisha .Social and cultural stereotypes hinder women from taking full advantage of ICT and STEM, leaving them unable to access many important economic and social opportunities. Pwani Teknowgalz creates a platform where women and girls can use their creativity to create opportunities for themselves and for their community by learning to use and apply technology. In a safe, women-led space, Pwaniteknowgalz conducts trainings on digital literacy, web development, mobile application development, design thinking and digitally-enabled entrepreneurship workshops . “We also provide mentorship opportunities for women and girls because we don’t often have access to female role models and mentors working in STEM field especially here in Mombasa”.Our goal is create a safe space for girls to interact , share ideas and experiences and connect with female mentors in the STEM field “says Aisha .
Aisha training at one of the workshops
Pwani Teknowgalz provides a holistic, women-led approach to engaging women and girls in the digital economy. We provide a space for ladies to interact, brainstorm, and share experiences with each other, and with female mentors in the technology and STEM field. We also engage others that will help provide support for women’s inclusivity in STEM; for example, we invite parents to attend our workshops and programs, especially for high school students, as families heavily influence the career choices of young women. While our main focus is on improving digital literacy and skills, Pwani Teknowgalz also provides a safe space for women and girls to share their experience and discuss issues facing women in Mombasa more generally. This instills confidence, boosts their morale, and helps them to build community. This helps them to more actively participate in the development of their communities.”
“In the next two years, we hope to scale our program to reach other parts of the coastal region and Kenya more broadly. So far, we have a branch in the Rift Valley Region in Kenya, which is working with local high schools and universities” says Aisha