My name is Aisha Abdulqadir. I am an ICT Trainer and a Web Developer from Mombasa, Kenya. I have a Bachelor’s degree in Information Communication and Technology (ICT) from the Technical University of Mombasa. I am a co-founder of Pwani Teknowgalz, a social enterprise that aims to inspire girls to join the STEM field through mentorship and interactive training. My passion lies in the field of Technology, and I love exposing girls to this field through mentorship and training.
Why did you get into STEM?
At a young age, I was always fascinated by how technology was changing our world. This fascination coupled with my desire to create something that will solve many of the problems that our community faces, pushed me to get into STEM. There are a lot of opportunities in STEM, especially for females. As Caitlin Garrett, Senior Marketing Data Analyst at Yodle rightly said, “it’s a really cool time to be in STEM because everything is expanding and changing so quickly that there are a lot of opportunities for new graduates. In some cases, the technology that people are using is so new that it’s hard to find people who know the ropes, which provides a great learning opportunity for a tenacious graduate.”
What do you consider your greatest achievements?
My greatest achievement has been co-founding Pwani Teknowgalz which is a women-led community-based organization that provides a holistic approach to engaging women in STEM. We engage girls in various programs such as workshops and boot camps to encourage them to take up STEM fields. One of my favourite programs is the Mombasa Girls in STEM, a one year programme that trained girls in over 11 high schools in Mombasa. The girls were able to create projects that revolved around STEM. At the end of the program, most of the girls had also changed their attitude towards the science subjects they studied in school. Currently, Pwani Teknowgalz has started web development classes where girls are trained in web development and mobile applications at an affordable fee.
What challenges have you faced as a woman in STEM and how did you overcome them?
There are many challenges that women face in STEM. One of the challenges I faced was the lack of female mentors in the technology field. Mombasa has few female mentors in the technology industry and if at all, most of them shy away from providing mentorship programmes to upcoming females in the IT Field.
What is your advice to budding women in STEM?
My advice to fellow women in STEM is that they should stand out and be the ambassadors of change in their communities by mentoring and nurturing upcoming women who are interested and passionate about pursuing STEM careers, sharing their experiences and exchanging ideas with them. For the upcoming women in STEM, I would say be open to learn new skills, be determined and passionate about what you are doing.