Several non-technical career opportunities are now available in the tech industry, Helen Anatogu, CEO of iDEA Hub has told a women forum in Lagos to dispel myths that tech is only for Engineers.
“You don’t have to be an Engineer to work in the tech industry. I am a lawyer. I am not an Engineer. There are various careers that will take you into the technology industry” the CEO of iDEA (Information Technology Developers Entrepreneurship Accelerator) Hub, a Nigerian digital entrepreneurs supporting firm, told participants at the Africa Women Innovation and Entrepreneurship Forum (AWIEF 2016) held last week in Lagos.
The iDEA Hub CEO was among speakers at the two-day AWIEF 2016 forum that hosted women from across Africa with focus on economic empowerment for women.
“If you are interested in technology, you can be a lawyer in the tech business. You can be the Marketing person. You can be the Digital person. You don’t always have to be the developer. But all these skills are necessary for a tech business to work and for people to succeed” Anatogun said while delivering a speech on “ICT & STEM to Help Girls and Young Women Think Big” at the AWIEF 2016 forum.
According to her, women also don’t have to dress masculine to work in the tech industry. She dispelled another myth by noting that there is no rule that says this is what a tech person should look like. She explained that women can still wear their high heeled foot-wears and look all feminine while working in the tech sector.
[quote font=”georgia” font_size=”22″ font_style=”italic” align=”left” arrow=”yes”]“You don’t have to be an Engineer to work in the tech industry. I am a lawyer. I am not an Engineer. There are various careers that will take you into the technology industry” the CEO of iDEA (Information Technology Developers Entrepreneurship Accelerator) Hub, a Nigerian digital entrepreneurs supporting firm, told participants at the Africa Women Innovation and Entrepreneurship Forum (AWIEF 2016) held last week in Lagos.[/quote]The iDEA Hub CEO wants the participants to actively encourage people in technology. “Being a good role model is so important and mentoring young people. I went to Unilag because I graduated from Unilag. The Law Faculty called me to talk to the class and by the time I finished talking to the class and Law students, first of all, the girls in the room asked where I work and I told them what I do.
“Their eyes popped. They said, ‘but you are female.’ And I said, ‘yes.’ They said, ‘but you have a Law Degree’, and I said, ‘yes.’ By the time I got back to the office, I had about five emails in my box from the girls saying, ‘can you mentor me? I didn’t know that the possibilities were there. I thought that with a Law Degree, all I could do was to be a lawyer.’”
Anatogu also wants parents to encourage their children who have passion for technology to venture into the tech space using the knowledge they have acquired from their various courses in school. “I think even as parents, we have to understand that education is a tool even before our children understand that education is a tool. It is the acquisition of knowledge.
According to her, “now, how you apply that knowledge that you have acquired is different and we have to have them understand that there are so many ways we can apply the knowledge. Even within the hub now, I have to say I have a bias. When I see women entrepreneurs and they apply, even if they are not a 100%, I have a bias to say you know what, come in because I like the fact that you have tried.”
Anatogu later told Technology Times at the sidelines of the AWIEF 2016 forum that “women who are in technology, especially the senior women, need to do more to engage the younger ones. We need to do more public engagement, more speaking, more mentoring, so that people will see that it’s possible to actually be in technology and be successful.”
The iDEA Hub CEO is also confident that government has a role to play. She asked the government to empower women in technology by providing access to the Internet. “Access to the Internet opens up a whole world of learning, a whole world of creativity and I feel that is where government really comes in. Provide access and even STEM education in schools and actively encouraging girls, females to take up Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics in schools.”
According to Anatogu, “The practical steps that the government can take to encourage girls to take up STEM courses include first of all, that the child goes to school. It is not the child, it’s the parents. So, we should have sanctions against parents who keep a child at home just because of their gender. That should be illegal; to discriminate which one goes. It is a different thing if it is because there is no money.”
The iDEA Hub CEO tells Technology Times that, “the second thing is they talked about school feeding. That is one of the things they are already doing which is making it a less burden for the family to send the child to school. A lot of the time, the backbone of every family is the woman and if the woman is strong and the woman is empowered, it is most likely that her child will be strong.”
For Anatogu, “we have a lot of illiterate mothers and so, how much of these part-time schooling do we even have in place for a woman to access because a woman comes in, she learns, she goes home, guess what she does, she teaches her child.”
This will have multiplier effect as the iDEA Hub CEO further explains as “a child comes home with homework and the woman can’t read or write to even help her child while the husband is out at work. So those are the kind of things to do to empower the women and make it difficult for parents and for fathers to keep the girls at home.”