Tag: gender

Breaking the code: how women in Nigeria are changing the face of tech

Female developers are emerging as influential forces in the countrys booming technology sector but the stigma persists that computing is a male industry

The Nigerian tech scene is booming. Last year, Lagos-based startup Andela received $24m (18.5m) in funding from Mark Zuckerberg. In 2015, financial technology startup Paystack one of the first Nigerian tech companies to be accepted into renowned California-based startup accelerator Y Combinator secured approximately $1.3m in seed investment from international investors.

Within this growth, women are emerging as influential forces, and changing the face of technology in Africa, especially in the fields of agricultural and financial tech. This is despite the fact that, as recently as a decade ago, women were grossly underrepresented in and excluded from the industries they are now helping to shape.

I think those who are joining the tech world today have an easier path to tread, says Nnenna Nwakanma, a Nigerian activist for accessible internet. There were situations where people would refuse to recognise my authority, but would patronise or objectify me, or refuse to fulfil contracts they had willingly entered into all because of my gender. Despite this, Nwakanma co-founded the Free Software and Open Source Foundation for Africa (FOSSFA) and is now a senior policy manager for the World Wide Web Foundation, where she supports digital equality and promotes the rights of Nigerian women online.

The negative attitude towards womens involvement in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (Stem) is starting to change, thanks partly to initiatives such as the Stem outreach and mentoring programmes established by the Working to Advance Science and Technology Education for African Women (WAAW) Foundation, which operates in 11 countries. There is also Intels programme She Will Connect Africa, which has trained more than 150,000 women in Nigeria, South Africa and Kenya in digital literacy since it launched in 2013.

The demand for tech talent is now such that it cannot be met by men alone. Rapid digitalisation in Nigeria is heavily concentrated in the countrys metropolitan megacity, Lagos. Here, the startup culture flourishes, while big business have moved in: in 2015, global tech supplier Bosch opened a subsidiary in Ikeja, the capital of Lagos region, and Microsoft has an office in the affluent Lagos neighbourhood of Ikoyi.

Ire Aderinokun the author of web development blog bitsofco.de, a front-end developer and Nigerias first female Google Developer Expert says her love of tech started as a hobby. I used to play an online game called Neopets, which had some HTML capabilities. From there, I got really interested and continued to learn more. But, despite Aderinokuns enthusiasm, her interest was not always encouraged. Its definitely not what society expected of me. I studied psychology for my undergraduate and law for my masters. When I said I wanted to pursue this, there were many people who told me not to.

Rukayat Sadiq, a software engineer and a technical team leader at Andela, also faced opposition. She chose to study electrical engineering a subject in which a class of 150 students might include only 15 women to the surprise of friends and family, who had expected her to become a doctor.

While women entering and participating equally in the labour market is commonplace in Nigeria, computing and engineering are still industries dominated heavily by men. But many women who work in the tech industry are keen to offer support to those coming up. Aderinokun, for example, is funding full scholarships to five women for online programming nanodegrees. These qualifications do not guarantee employment, but they give those who have earned them a distinct advantage in the workplace and are endorsed by top employers, including Google, AT&T and Amazon. Sadiq also spends time teaching and mentoring newbies.

Removing the stigma and assumption that tech is only supposed to be for men is necessary, and I think we need to start from as early in childrens lives as possible, says Aderinokun. We should work towards eliminating negative statements and mindsets that perpetuate the myth that women cant be involved in Stem.

It is hopeful that we will one day get to a point where tech-related fields are level playing grounds for both sexes.

It is a challenge that continues around the globe, but it is one Nigeria is well equipped to handle.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2017/aug/14/breaking-the-code-how-women-in-nigeria-are-changing-the-face-of-tech

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By Age 6 Girls Are More Likely To Think “Genius” And “Brilliance” Are Male Traits, Not Female

In a heartbreaking new study, scientists have discovered that gender stereotypes can start affecting children from as young assix, the age when girls start thinking of traits like intelligence, brilliance, and genius, as distinctly male.

Its no secret that there is an imbalance of women and men working in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) disciplines. In fact, in the US, where this study was conducted, only 30 percent of people employed in STEM positions are women.

Hoping to find out why this is, researchers from New York University, University of Illinois, and Princeton decided to investigate several possible factors, including whether societal gender stereotypes such as associating intellectual talent with males affected girls choices from a young age.

Their study found that girls as young as six believed that exceptional talent was a boys trait, and their male counterparts are more likely to exhibit “brilliance”. Its also the age they began steering themselves away from activities aimed at the really, really smart, choosing ones aimed at children who try really, really hard instead.

“Not only do we see thatgirlsjust starting out in school are absorbing some of society’s stereotyped notions of brilliance, but these younggirlsare also choosing activities based on these stereotypes, said senior author Andrei Cimpian from NYU in a statement. This is heartbreaking.”

The study looked at 400 children, half of whom were girls, between the ages of five and seven years old to evaluate their opinions and attitudes towards the notions of intelligence and ability.

Our society tends to associate brilliance with men more than with women, and this notion pushes women away from jobs that are perceived to require brilliance, said co-author Lin Bian. We wanted to know whether young children also endorse these stereotypes.

Using the phrase really, really smart as a childs way of understanding the adult concept of brilliance, they carried out several tests to probe the influence of gender stereotypes.

In one example the children were read a story about a really, really smart protagonist that was not revealed to be male or female. Afterwards they were then asked to select the most likely protagonist from among pictures of men and women. At age five, most of the children picked their own gender, proving they viewed their own gender positively, however the sixand seven-year olds mostly picked the male.

Another experiment had the children express their preference for two games they played, one described as for children who are really, really smart and the other for children who try really, really hard. Their findings showed that both genders were interested in the hard game but the sixand seven-year old girls shied away from the smart one.

Already by this young age girls are discounting the evidence that is in front of their eyes and basing their ideas about who is really, really smart on other things, said Cimpian.

Overall, their study highlights how even young children can absorb and be influenced by gender stereotypes that still exist in today’s society, such as that of brilliance or giftedness being more common in men, and this is having a detrimental effect on girls futures.

Because these ideas are present at such an early age, they have so much time to affect the educational trajectories of boys and girls, Cimpian explained.

The authors concluded in their paper, published in the journal Science, that women are underrepresented in fields whose members cherish brilliance (such as physics and philosophy) because societys gender stereotypes harbored from a young age are likely to discourage womens pursuit of many prestigious careers.

The present results suggest a sobering conclusion: many children assimilate the idea that brilliance is a male quality at a young age,” the study states. “This stereotype begins to shape children’s interests as soon as it is acquired and is thus likely to narrow the range of careers they will one day contemplate.”

Read more: http://www.iflscience.com/editors-blog/by-age-6-girls-are-more-likely-to-think-genius-and-brilliance-are-male-traits-not-female/

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