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The Curious Case of Google Africa: What went down at Women Techmakers Summit 2016, Lagos, Nigeria.

Women Techmakers customised my workspace!

History recorded another fantastic event organised by Women Techmakers (WTM) in conjunction with Google. It was the first of its kind in Nigeria, and Africa at large. Before I start bugging you with unfamiliar stuff, let’s take a brief trip down memory lane…

Once upon a time in history when women were not given the rights to vote or hold public offices, some really brave women arose and started a revolution. After much struggle and a satisfying win, March 8 was declared as International Women’s Day in most countries. It was set aside to celebrate women rights and world peace. On this day, the social, cultural, economic, and political achievements of women are celebrated.

Women Tecmakers

In 2012, Google launched the Women Techmakers program to celebrate and empower women in technology and for the past two years, the Women Techmakers team has convened over 200 global events across 52 countries to drive visibility, community, and resources for women in technology in honour of International Women’s Day (IWD). Hence, March 19th, 2016. Now, here’s how it all happened…

I was going through my mail (daily routine) when I noticed a mail form Google Developers’ Group, Obafemi Awolowo University (GDG OAU). Curious? Definitely. I checked the mail and as usual, I wasn’t disappointed. The decision to attend the event was made instantly. All I needed was to schedule for the period I’d be away from work and get some things in place. Work can’t be neglected, right?. I clicked on the link to the Women Techmakers’ website, surveyed the site a bit and clicked on the application link. My first thought was “I like this material design”. Lol, Google really likes pushing their products. Anyways, I completed the form, submitted and started praying. I wasn’t ready to miss this event for anything in the world. 14 days later, I got my acceptance email. I was all smiles. Absolutely nothing could quench my happiness that day. Some would ask “What’s the big deal?” Well, I knew the value I would get from attending the event.

The trip to Lagos was another experience. It would be my first Lekki visit (Please don’t crucify me). Truth be told, my nostrils and eyes had their fill; the stench, pleasant scents and beautiful scenery all ingested at once. It was overwhelming. After an hour and some, I arrived at The Civic Center. It was definitely the perfect venue for this event. To cut the long story short, registration commenced promptly and the event started as scheduled (I just love people that stick to time).

“Embrace the diversity of Experience”. These were the starting words of Mrs Affiong Osuchukwu (Country Marketing Manager, Nigeria, Google) as she gave the Keynote for the event. As she moved confidently on stage, I could perceive that this is someone who has a fantastic story to tell. Hard work, fuelled by passion have driven the reins of her successful career. I learnt this: Every waking moment is an opportunity to experience the diversities of life that will in effect shape us into the awesome beings that we are, depending on how we embrace such experiences.

It is paramount to understand that your gender does not define your agenda or future. You can definitely become anything you want to be. You just need to get the necessary skills, raise your voice, be bold and be persistent. The sessions I love the most were the Ignite Talks and Workshop sessions. Honestly, women are doing stuff. Heard of TechHerNg, Women in Technology in Nigeria (WITIN), Women in Tech Africa, Women’s Technology Empowerment Centre (W.TEC), ShelovesCode? I’m telling you, we’re changing technology. These start-ups, owned by women of course, have one thing in common: they have realised how huge the technology market is in Africa and have devised means to enable you and I harness the opportunities in this growing industry.

These women are bold individuals who have completely thrashed down negative stereotypes, raised their voices, stood for virtues they believe in and have been persistent in ensuring that women in African (and the world) can achieve the same.

It definitely wasn’t enough to just get an ear full of ignite talks. Women Techmakers definitely meant serious business. Two workshops were included in the event: Design Sprint and Code Lab. I chose the Design Sprint. Why? I want to know how Google executes her project. Guess what? Google uses 5 simple methods! Surprised? I was too. To solve problems and test their solutions, you should:

  1. Understand the Problem
  2. Sketch Solutions
  3. Decide on preferred Solution(s)
  4. Prototype Selected Solution(s) and finally,
  5. Validate Solution(s)

Simple, right? Yeah but it doesn’t end with just memorising these steps. You have to overcome inertia. These five methods were applied when different teams in the workshop were to deliberate on ways to improve the Ajo (our local thrift/cooperative society) system in Nigeria. It’s amazing how ideas are born in a room full of intelligent women.
Finally, a panel discussion on “The Future of Women in Tech in Africa” crowned the event. We have a place and future in technology because technology itself is gender neutral. Enough with the negative stereotypes about who should do this and what! You can be that amazing mother of three who does cool stuff with and for technology. You can be anything you want to be. Learn like your life depends on it, do your job well and the ceiling will be smashed for you. Kudos to Chioma Agwuegbo, Oreoluwa Somolu Lesi, Foluso Gbadamosi, Mayowa Adebayo and every woman doing great stuff out there.

This post won’t be complete if I don’t mention the impeccable catering service at the event. Google, Women Techmakers, you rock! I had a wonderful time. Yes, every minute spent at WTM 2016 was awesome and more.
#codestuff #solveaproblem #dressnice #IWD #WTM 16

Author: Esther Falayi

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This post was written by Esther Falayi

  • Ajewole Toluwanimi

    Nice one Esther. Kudos!

    • Esther Falayi

      Thanks Tolu

  • This is impressive. Well written.

    • Esther Falayi

      Thanks Jide.

  • Adejuwon ‘lanrewaju Adeyimika

    Nice one. All the experience in one article.

    • Esther Falayi

      Thanks Omolara. *hugs*