A team of women friends converged at the Eighty-Eight restaurant of the Villa Rosa Hotel in Nairobi on the chill of Thursday morning, the 13th June 2019, to discourse the scheme for pulling more women into the technology space at an event hosted by and for the friends of Women.
The amis de femmes event, hosted by CIO East Africa and AnitaB organization, drew together a whopping 78 high profile women and two men, all from the technology space.
Key business of the day being how to attain gender parity in the most apparent male dominated technology space, brains deliberated on the various techniques of achieving the common goal, motivated by awesome stories of their (women) journeys in technology, that unanimously agreed in mentorship as the core element to achieving that goal.
Alluding to an Ivy League survey that reported an excess of 70% of women having to ask for permission before doing something, Kendi Ntwiga the Managing Director with Checkpoint, expressed her disappointment in the life-long practice that has for the life of her, been the major hold back for women to leapfrog into new exciting world like technology careers.
“Seeking people’s consent is injurious and limits our (women) potential, yet we still do it. It leaves you just as good as what the approvers think,” said Kendi, adding; “Do not look for people to gauge your ability, heed opportunities head-on being a self-advocate.”
Other than self-advocacy, women also learnt rudiments like credibility, mentorship, trainings and risk taking alongside the thirst for excellence, consistency and authenticity to help them thrive in the tech space. Speaking up one’s mind was also enlisted as a leverage a woman’s chances in the already male conquered industry.
Speaking at the forum, Laura Chite, CEO CIO East Africa together with Agnes Gathaiya, CEO for Integrated Payment Services Limited (IPSL) insisted on telling out what ideas are in one’s mind without cowing to prejudice. They said that this helps map a woman’s interest area for mentorship.
The two who spoke at different times, unanimously recognized women’s ability to thrive in technical careers, recounting and relating their personal experiences rising in the space.
In her book, ‘Becoming Michelle Obama’, the most immediate former American First Lady and an alumnus of the prestigious Princeton University narrates her ordeal being one of the very few colored students in the higher learning center, dominated by rich white students. Michelle admits to having fought her way to top of her class amidst doubts – harbored even within herself – that a colored student (as she calls non-whites) could not be as smart as their white counterparts.
This self-doubt is akin to reasons behind gender disparity in tech, what Max Kihara, a Toastmasters Mentor who, together with Robert Bobby Yawe stood out as the men friends of women in support for this noble Thursday morning course, calls out of date for the 21st century woman.
Kihara certified that women have the potential to pursue and thrive in technology, and that men who continue to take over that space have not proven smarter than women, but are embolden by the ancient superiority tide having never been told otherwise, not even the women. He believes that women are not a lesser gender and reminds women to always speak up their minds without the fear of being intimidated by men.
Yawe Robert who assumed the master of ceremony (MC) role the hernovation forum, encouraged women to not act against each other at the workplace, rather embrace one another for a betterment of the woman world. He commended women’s ability and talent for relating differently to different needs and urged them to translate the same into technical roles and courses.
The ‘am I good enough’ intrapersonal conversation as Michelle Obama calls it, has kept a lot of women potentiality untapped what Bobby gladly brings that to an abrupt halt.
A vibrant and seemingly outspoken Dr. Shikoh Getau added self-love, trust and confidence to the list of success pillars for women eyeing technology courses. She says that a woman should make decisions basing on logic only and not reflexive wishes for other people’s approvals.
She appreciates that people like to associate with success and will only get close when one hits competence levels, that are hard to reach but doable. She concludes that there is always something other than just being mothers that women can offer the world.
“Let the world identify you first as a competent person before it does a woman.” Dr Getau.
Hernovation was instituted in November 2018 during the CIO100 Symposium and Awards, an annual event hosted by CIO East Africa, as a forum to mentor women into the technical world. It later launched its framework in May 2019 during the global day of the woman or the International Women’s Day and aligned its theme with the #IWD2019 theme that was ‘Inclusion for Balance’.
As a forum, hernovation seeks to work with individuals, organizations and governments in the East of Africa to offer mentorship and fundamental support to all ladies- young and old who wish to enroll into IT.