Amanda Obidike is a Certified professional in STEM by the Open University (United Kingdom) and Executive Director of The Science, Technology, Engineering, Math and Innovation Makers of Africa (STEMi Makers Africa) where she created sustainable and implementable projects in underserved communities across 17 Sub-Saharan African countries. The goal is to prepare the next generation of Africans with STEM emerging opportunities to become experienced for Africa’s workforce by 2030.
She serves as a Mentor in Cherie Blair Foundation, the 1million Women in Tech Community, Global thinkers for Women where she lends her voice, knowledge, and serves as a role model for girls in West Africa.
Recently, she was given the Global Humanitarian Act for Gender Inclusion and Social Protection award for successfully championing diversity for the girl child, Positive Impact Award of Athena40: The World’s Most Innovative Women, 2020 and Role Model Finalist in Booking.com Technology Playmakers Awards, 2020.
Why did you get into STEM?
I began to explore STEM fields in 2012 when I was under-employed and depressed. The meaningful and sustainable jobs available in Nigeria required technical and scientific skills that I didn’t have originally after graduating from the University.
Nigeria began to transfer major resources and job opportunities to skilled professionals and expatriates due to a lack of competent and domestic STEM workforce.
Seeing this economic disparity, I enrolled into a Technical Mentorship program and made the leap from Administration to Data Science where I was offered an opportunity to build my capability, work in collaboration with a mentor, network and access the labour market in confidence. I was excited when I began to research diverse and emerging opportunities in STEM fields that young girls like me can embrace.
In 2017, I took the initiative to inspire and provide Africans with the 21st-century skills, hands-on experience and emerging opportunities they need to be successful in the new global workforce and to match global competitiveness.
This became an avenue in supporting women to become role models, entrepreneurs and social impact leaders by investing in their communities and creating jobs for others.
For the change I desired to happen in Nigeria and West Africa, I needed to be the change personified by inspiring others to see beyond Africa’s present disposition where we can move from being overly-dependent on 1st-world countries to STEM disruptors in our economy.
What do you consider your greatest achievements?
One of my greatest achievements was the ability to work with a diverse pool of young talents who are passionate about changing the cultural fabric of unemployment and education in their various countries. We provided innovative tools, technical skills and set up a skills-based academy to offer future-focused options for Africans to shape the future of work, solve real-world problems and meet the changing demand of the labour market.
We built high-functioning STEM communities for knowledge and skill transfer, successful practicalities, and created easy access to STEM opportunities within the emerging generation of stakeholders in their respective communities and countries at large. For me, affecting the lives of others will be one of the most exciting and humbling experiences of my time. This earned me the African Changemaker Award, 2019 and Top 100 Leading Ladies in Africa, 2020.
What challenges have you faced as a woman in STEM and how did you overcome them?
We have very few women in STEM across Africa and so little role models that young girls can look up to and be inspired. This gender disparity leaves a lot of room to be desired. In Africa, we are yet to ensure that STEM is also a continental priority. This challenge has made me advocate for women and minorities by promoting STEM roles of women across secondary schools. We teach girls how to collaborate together, create, communicate and think critically. Presently, we are also designing a mentorship program for young girls where we pair phenomenal women in STEM to these girls in order to improve women participation in STEM and for young girls to be confident in STEM-lucrative fields.