Updated: a day ago

Passion! We all have it. Our passion is the stepping stone of our future, the crippling factor to our fears or the data to our Machine Learning (ML) model. Maybe even that GPU that improves cloud computing greatly. Our passions lead us to various paths and down several learning curves, but as a woman passionate about technology and about solving problems of the society, I was led down the path of applying for the first ever Women in Machine Learning conference.

Applying was one thing, clouded with doubts of being good enough on viewing the website of the facilitators- Yielding Accomplished African Women (YAA. W). Thankfully, I climbed that hurdle and went ahead with my application. Receiving the email of my acceptance left me completely exhilarated, presenting me with an opportunity to make HERSTORY. After completing the pre-conference training, I was convinced I was ready to face the ML world; this is where the best part begun.

Two and a half days! There were two sides to the coin. Side one had unfamiliar people, faces and places. Side two however came with the chance to have a sisterhood with ladies burning with a passion I can relate to, an opportunity to be under the tutelage of industry experts- women who are killing it in their chosen tech paths, with a topping of building a cross-country, cross-industry network.

Well, team side two carried the day! My experiences were vast, my education expanded, my exposure refined and my expertise sharpened! The sessions of the two and a half day journey did this. My understanding of ML models was expanded especially in understanding and building data pipelines for models and understanding of ML worthy situations. I had the experience of a lifetime. Meeting ladies from different countries exposed me to different languages and cultures in the African continent. I learnt how to say thank you in Yoruba and Swahili! The lab sessions provided me the tools to practice building ML models using APIs and AutoML from Google. Guess who knows her way around Google Cloud Platform now?

After all was said and done, some things stuck with me, the closing words from Miss Diana Wilson, CEO of Yielding Accomplished African Women. “Whether you think you can or you think you can't, you are right”- Henry Ford. So the next time you stop to think you’re female and so you can’t make it? Or you cannot match up to the next person? Or this is out of your league? Or you’re the best there ever was? Or you can do this and totally excel at it? Or you are above standard? Remember, you’re right! You are what you tell yourself repeatedly. Let go of the nays and hold onto the yes and your life will turn around for good. Reach out to a sister, spread the gospel that “Women can do tech too”. Tell her #yaashecan and #yaashewill, because we really can and we really will make an impact.

I’m extremely grateful to Google, MTN and Yielding Accomplished African Women for this opportunity given me. Because of your good work, a young girl in Ghana can turn her dream into reality, and she is spreading the word to all!

“Black Women and Black girls in STEM are phenomenal! They’re intelligent, fearless, resilient and unstoppable. They exude confidence, strength, determination, and excellence. Accept it…...Black females in STEM rock! “

“When I was young, I was very interested in science and technology, and my dad brought home the first computer. I played pac man and I was hooked! By learning to create technology, girls learn to speak up”

The two quotes above were cited by two distinguished black women who were alarmed about the gender-bias experienced by black women in STEM(Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics). The first quote was cited by Stephanie Lahart who is an author, a poet, youth motivational speaker for at-risk teens, teen mentor and fearless entrepreneur while the second quote was cited by Regina Agyare who is a Ghanaian social Entrepreneur, software developer and founder of Soronko solutions. The two quotes cited by these two black women tell the whole story of how hard it is to meet a black woman in STEM encouraged by the society.

According to the UNESCO statistics, women in the tech industry constitute only 28% of the professionals in the sector world-wide, and just 30% in Sub-Saharan Africa. These statistics reveal how poor the percentage of women to men is as it is expected that the remaining 72% worldwide and the remaining 70% in Sub-Saharan Africa are men. But the question is where are all the other women who could have made the statistics better? It is widely believed in most parts of the Sub-Saharan Africa that the place of women in society are:

1. The home (responsible for basic household chores such as cooking, cleaning, taking care of the children).

2. The farm (weeding, crop harvesting and planting).

3. Jobs (Casual underpaid labors).

These are some of the examples of where the African society expects women to be found.

‘When you educate a woman, you educate the whole nation’, ‘Fuel her fire and she will soar.’ These are some of the proverbs that reveal the purpose of YaaW. YaaW(Yielding Accomplished African Women) is West Africa’s first technology and finance talent accelerator which aims at erecting and cultivating the largest community of African female developers and financial analysts who are passionate about using STEM to revolutionize Africa and Beyond.

What is YaaW’s approach to resolving the gender-bias in STEM in Africa?

YaaW gives African women not only qualitative but also quantitative skills required by these women to succeed in the global STEM market while formulating a gender-specific professional toolkit. While in an interview, Diana Wilson the founder of YaaW said ‘…My research led me to conclude that there is one main factor that is depriving the world of $28trillion dollars in economy……This factor is economic empowerment for women. According to the McKinsey Global Institute, if women had the opportunity in the economy equally as men, this could happen in just 7 years’, those figures are really mind-blowing. It is vivid from her research and the statements she made that the only thing that could help reduce gender-bias in STEM is more YaaW’s across different countries in Africa.

Yaa W. is West Africa’s first technology and finance talent accelerator. We aim at erecting and cultivating the largest community of African female developers and financial analysts who are passionate about using STEM to revolutionize Africa and beyond. We give these women the qualitative and quantitative skills required to succeed in the highly competitive, global STEM market, while also formulating a gender-specific professional toolkit.

Through partnerships with Fortune 500 businesses (Microsoft, IBM, Bank of America), startups and agencies we created a direct pipeline to economic opportunity. We teach professional development, full stack development, machine learning, mindfulness, and more. Visit our website to see our complete curriculum.

Why It’s Important:

  1. 15 to 20 million well-educated young people will enter into Africa’s labor force annually now through 2030

  2. Currently African women hold 66 percent of all jobs in the non-agricultural informal sector

  3. Excluding women from the professional workplace is costing sub-Saharan Africa on average $US95 billion a year since 2010

Our Impact:

  • Trained 800 youth, jobseekers, and entrepreneurs all over Africa (all women)

  • 90% of our fellows have received internships and fellowships at top technology or finance firms

  • 100% of our university graduates have received jobs at top technology or finance firms

  • Pioneered Africa's first machine learning conference for 100 young women. In partnership with Google and MTN, the Solving the Algorithm: Women in Machine Learning Conference will be held on December 5th-7th, 2019 in Accra, Ghana

  • Delivered 10,000+ hours of in-person and online training on full stack development, professional development and data science

  • Established a presence in 5 African countries: Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, South Africa and Mauritius

  • Launched the first ever professional STEM sorority university chapters in Africa

  • Partnered with 20+ technology/financial companies and startups in Africa and globally

  • Sponsored 500 young women to West Africa’s Largest Tech Summit

Thank you to all of our executive team members, sponsors, donors, corporate partners and supporters. Cheers to continuing the journey of “Revolutionizing the Face of Technology & Finance”. #yaawturns2

25 views1 comment
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • YouTube
  • Instagram