Women in Technology

Lillian Achom
Afchix Africa Women in
The vision of AfChix Africa Women is a gender diverse workforce in the ICT/computer Science Industry. Its mission is to create a vibrant network of African Women in Computer Science, IT and related areas by networking with women [those already in computer science / IT and young girls] for purposes of supporting them to grow in their careers and encouraging young girls to consider careers in Computer Science / IT.

AfChix Africa Women in Technology is a network for women in computer science and IT. AfChix Africa Women in Technology evolved from LinuxChix Africa, which was started in 2004 by two great African women; Dorcas Muthoni of Kenya and Anna Badimo of South Africa.

AfChix is based in Kenya-its mother country and there are many other chapters all over Africa; Kenya, Uganda, Lesotho, Morocco, Senegal, Zimbabwe, South Africa and many others.

It can be argued from an economic standpoint that for a country's Computer industry to withstand competition from abroad, underrepresented groups like women must play a greater role. In addition, gender diversity has been suggested to give benefits such as better decision making, increased creativity, and enhanced, innovative performances. As such, through its mentorship, up-skilling workshops and conference programs and using the principle of “Each one reaching one”, AfChix Uganda aims at creating a network of girls and women in computer Science/IT related fields by encouraging more girls into STEM-related curricula and supporting those already in the field to grow in their careers.

One of our major challenges has been in being able to fully engage the girls in mixed schools and universities to freely get involved in discussions during the workshops and career guidance seminars. From such schools, the girls tend to shy away while the boys take over and as such, we have not been able to attract more girls from mixed schools. The story however, is different in the single-sexed schools where the girls seem to freely express themselves.

What I feel is the major challenge facing girls is basically that girls do not believe in themselves as much as boys do. They lack that positive attitude towards STEM and Computer Science/IT related programs and will always shy away from expressing themselves in the presence of the boys because they think boys are there to make fun or laugh at them whenever they say something wrong, which is actually not the case.

To come out of this problem, I think we should involve the community; parents and family, peers and the school community who are present from the earliest stage of the child and are central in the upbringing of the child, to help in shaping and influencing the youngsters’ perceptions on gender issues and STEM.

Visit her blog http://afchix.blogspot.com/ for more details.

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