Professor Macharia’s Bio
Professor Macharia is an Information Systems researcher and university professor at Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville. Her research falls under the broad umbrella of social inclusion and centers around identity threats in Information Systems, ICT for development and Telemedicine and rural health. Before embarking on her doctorate studies at the University of Arkansas, she worked for about 15 years as an IT professional in Kenya in various organizations and capacities including, Systems Administrator, IT consultant and IT manager.
Why did you get into STEM?
I was always interested in science and math from an early age. I remember being in primary school and hearing people say “science is for boys” and asking “why?”. I guess I never did get a good answer. There was no question that I was going to study science in college. My undergraduate degree was in chemistry and mathematics and it was during that time that I developed an interest in computers and technology and the rest is history.
What do you consider your greatest achievements?
Undertaking my PhD is the most challenging thing I’ve ever done but one of the rewards of staying in the game is that now, as a university professor, I have the privilege of sharing my passion for IT with young minds.
Working as an IT volunteer with VSO was one of the most amazing experiences I’ve ever had and would be willing to do it again.
What challenges have you faced as a woman in STEM and how did you overcome them?
As a woman in IT, especially in my earlier days, I constantly faced people who had the notion that IT was for young men in a back office room somewhere, coding and programming and hardly interacting with others. For example, I would get surprised reactions when I did something as simple as replace a hard disk or add a memory card. The only way to deal with this was to keep working hard and proving myself.
What is your advice to budding women in STEM?
I would tell them to not let anyone hold them back. Do not let anyone tell you that it’s not possible or you don’t have ability to excel in whatever discipline.
Also, don’t be afraid to be curious. Be inquisitive. Ask questions. Read.