Experts Call For Greater Participation of Women In Science and Technology

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Thursday, March 19, 2020 / 7:30 PM / Nifemi Taiyese for WebTV / Header Image Credit: WebTV

 

Dr. Omobola Johnson, Senior Partner, TLCom Capital and former Minister for Information and Communication Technology and Professor Olayinka David-West, the Academic Director, Lagos Business School both agree that emphasis be laid on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) in schools, in addition to the increased participation of women in the technology.


Both women tech leaders expressed their views as panelists at the March 2020 breakfast meeting of the Nigerian-British Chamber of Commerce (NBCC), which had the theme "Nigerian Women & the Digital Economy".


This was part of the events to commemorate the International Women's Day 2020 by the Chamber.


Speaking on her experience of women and the digital economy, Dr. Omobola said it was important for women to acquire vast knowledge in the field of engineering which is what she has strived to attain. She noted that the opportunities in the digital world are enormous.


The former Minister noted that the primary focus should be encouraging the girl-child to develop interest in STEM, so that they can lead in areas like coding, innovation, and artificial intelligence.


She called on more young ladies who are enrolled in the Sciences, Engineering and Technology to explore Data Sciences, because it is a promising career path that would position them favourably in the digital age.


According to Omobola for young girls to gain increased presence in technology, social engineering needs to be done to encourage interest in STEM.


Professor Olayinka David-West on her part made a strong case for increased adoption of technology by women in Nigeria and development of soft skills.


Soft skills, Professor David-West noted, would help to improve social interaction with the real world, which is important for technology.


On the Out-Of-School children index in Nigeria which was above 13m with girls contributing a large part of the statistics, the Dr. Omobola believed EDUTECH will go a long way in addressing the challenge.She stressed the need for quality science education which would require qualified.


Speaking further she said during her tenure as Minister of ICT, the Digital Girls Club was established across the country, to encourage girls to develop skills in areas like coding and digital innovation.


She believed role-modelling was important and singled out, Funke Opeke, MD/CEO MainOne as an example of a woman that is leading the tech industry.


Professor David-West, on her part, emphasized the need for increased orientation on the value and output of technology if women participation is to be encouraged in Nigeria. She said the cultural norms limiting women from venturing into the tech industry must be broken.


The LBS lecturer challenged young women to be innovative and explore how they could develop the requisite skills to create applications that could solve socio-economic problems.


Both of them agreed that hard work, working smart, speaking out in the tech space and collaboration amongst women in tech was key to boosting their participation.


In his remarks, Mr. Kayode Falowo, President and Chairman of Council of NBCC, noted that in discussions around the world gender diversity has become a major topic of reference. Identifying some African countries like Mauritius, Rwanda, and Kenya, Falowo noted that increased participation of women in local technology workforces was becoming evident.


Falowo said Nigeria is beginning to catch up in ensuring that the society is diversified both in public and private sectors.


Using the NBCC as a case study and giving statistics, he said 66% of the top offices at the secretariat of NBCC is headed by women and 70% of NBCC workforce comprise of women. He noted that female board members add significant value to the organization.


"There is a need for women participation at senior levels across corporations and institutions; gender diversity will move corporate entities forward" he said. 


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