Ernestina Appiah is the Founder and CEO of Ghana Code Club. Ghana Code Club is a STEM non-profit committed to exposing elementary school kids in Ghana, especially girls, to computer science activities. Children between the ages of 8-16 gain basic computing skills while learning to make their own games, animations and build their own websites. Ernestina is helping young children learn to build their ideas with code and providing consultancy services for early child learning centers to develop their ICT curriculum. She was named by BBC 100 Women Series in 2015 as one of the most inspirational women in the World. She is a co winner of Reach For Change and Tigo’s 2016 Digital Change-makers competition.
Why did you get into STEM?
I got into the STEM field because I started working as a secretary and fell in love with Information Technology. I also saw for myself whilst working as a secretary that, all the IT consultants were really being paid well. As a secretary i was earning only 10% of the salary of an IT Consultant, so i made used of the technology tools available and slowly with the guide of some professionals, i got equipped with the right technology skill sets and within months, I established a career in STEM.
What do you consider your greatest achievements?
Being named as one of the 100 inspirational women in the world by BBC in 2015 is a great achievement. Also being a co winner of the Reach for Change and Tigo’s Digital Change maker’s award in 2016 is another achievement. Furthermore, empowering over 10,000 elementary school children with basic programming skills in Ghana directly or indirectly is another great achievement.
What challenges have you faced as a woman in STEM and how did you overcome them?
When i started family, it was difficult to put projects together without interruptions. I had to work extra hours both day and night to make up. As a founder of an NGO, we mostly rely on support both in cash and kind to expand to many other communities. We lack a lot of resources that can enable us to scale and tinker a lot. We have learnt to overcome them by introducing more computer science unplugged activities.
What is your advice to budding women in STEM?
My advice is that girls must ignore pressure to pursue a different field. They must capitalize on technology to learn new skills or improve on their skills.