Salomey Afua Addo is a mathematician and a data scientist at Ghana Natural Language Processing. She is currently the founder of The Hope Home tutoring services in Ghana and the lead coding course instructor at The Love Academy, USA. Her main drive and interest in life is to provide quality education for children living in slums and less privileged communities in Ghana. Would you love to help children living in slums attain their academic goals? Welcome to her world!
Why did you get into STEM?
I got into STEM because I believe most African socio-economic and technological challenges could be appropriately tackled through the knowledge obtained in the study of science and mathematics.
What do you consider your greatest achievements?
I teach children in my church, so before we start our service I ask my children what they learnt in school and their best subjects. I got the opportunity to tell my students that I am a mathematician. Honestly, I knew they were surprised because I am so cool and fun to be with. I told them I code in Python and as a mathematician, I spend most of my time writing algorithms like the scientists they watch in cartoons and they were all like: Woow! Two girls in class that day said they would like to become mathematicians when they grow. I was so happy that day. That is my greatest achievement.
What challenges have you faced as a woman in STEM and how did you overcome them?
As an aspiring data scientist, whenever I go for Artificial Intelligence (AI) meet-ups in Accra, Ghana, I only found a fifth of the attendees to be women. Data Science in Ghana and the world is male-dominated. This situation sometimes makes you feel inadequate and nervous as a woman in a male-dominated field. However, the strategy I use to break the ice is to be confident and bold to ask questions and make contributions. Yes! This approach really helps. I will encourage women in STEM to work together with men in STEM and learn as much as they can from their male counterparts. The more you ask questions the more you know. The more you know the higher you soar!
What is your advice to budding women in STEM?
I have failed several times as a mathematics student. After working hard and completing the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences I have found no gainful employment, although I have applied to several job openings. However, I still push on. I volunteer as a Data scientist for Medscreen Missions Ghana – an NGO seeking to promote healthy lifestyles in underprivileged areas and Ghana NLP – a new project to create curated corpora for our local languages so that we can enjoy the vast resources online in our local Ghanaian languages. So, as a woman in STEM, you need to be strong and embrace failure and uncertainties. The future is always bright for people who keep pushing! Don’t ever give up!