Glamorous geeks: The young women driving change in IT
Posted Saturday, May 26 2012 at 00:00
- In honour of World Telecommunication and Information Society Day, which was marked on May 17, we celebrate our sisters who are excelling in this male-dominated field
They have spent years in classes where they were greatly outnumbered. After joining the job market, they were the sole females in their departments.
Through the years, stereotypes have followed them; that they are not feminine or not normal.
But the young women in the technology arena are not fazed. They are determined to be the agents of perception change as Kenya’s braces to become a knowledge economy driven by the ICT wave.
After talking to 10 of the so-called ‘female geeks,’ we found that they love their fashion and lip-gloss as much as they are fascinated by gadgets.
1Kaburo Kobia, 37, Project Manager, Local Digital Content, Kenya ICT Board
Mention Tandaa grants, and the name that is likely to precede it is Ms Kaburo Kobia. The government funding, which is meant to spur growth in the local digital content, has given millions to technology start-ups.
“My work is inspiring as I get to work on projects that are helping to define and grow the ICT industry in Kenya,” she says.
Kaburo holds a BA in fine arts from Ohio Wesleyan University and an MA in design interaction, New Media, from the University of Westminister.
She has previously worked as communication director at World YWCA, online sales and development manager at Nation Media Group, and information architect at 3mice Interactive Media.
She doesn’t define herself as a techie and argues that technology is not just for scientists and engineers: “I’m an artist and I consider myself a part of the technology field.
“For Kenya to generate innovation in technology we need the participation of people—women—from all fields. This will enrich the solutions that are created.”
Passionate about getting more girls into the technology field, Kaburo says we must start with girls in primary school.
Apart from a love of gadgets, this young woman loves apps. “I have nearly 100 apps on my phone and lots on my desktop and browser. There’s an app for everything, and I use them like an extension of my brain. “
2Shikoh Gitau, 30, User Experience Researcher, Google Africa
Shikoh believes she is where she is today by the Grace of God. Born prematurely at Pumwani Hospital to semi-literate poor parents, she says there was every opportunity for her to become part of a negative statistic.
But 30 years later, Shikoh is not only healthy but more technologically literate than most.
In 2010, she joined Google Africa as a user experience researcher, a job that requires her to advise the technology giant on what users need.
It’s a job that fits her like a glove, for besides her great strides in education, she is animated and opinionated. Previously she worked at Microsoft and the Centre for Multiparty Democracy.