Ivy Barley: With coding, I can create a powerful software that can transform Africa and the world

Ivy Barley is a social entrepreneur and currently shaping a world where more African women will be daring enough to lead in in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) fields.

She is the co-founder of Developers in Vogue, an organization that trains females in the latest technologies and connects them to real-time projects and jobs. In 2017, she was named as one the 50 Most Influential Young Ghanaians.

Ivy is also a Global Shaper of the World Economic Forum and holds a Master’s Degree in Mathematical Statistics.


Tell us about yourself

Growing up, I always had a strong aptitude for Mathematics and Technology, and that has pretty much shaped my career path. I recently completed my MPhil. in Mathematical Statistics.

I believe that I have the potential to make a significant impact in Africa, and this is enough motivation for my work at Developers in Vogue. Aside from being a selfie freak, I enjoy hanging out with my best friend (my phone).

How did Dev in Vogue start?

About a year ago, I was working at an all-girls pre-university where my role included assisting the girls with Mathematics, Statistics, and Physics. I also taught the girls programming.

Before working in this school, I’d been hearing people say that women don’t like coding. However, I realized the contrary!

The girls were very enthusiastic about coding, they also had so many great ideas! My stay in the school was cut short but all the while after that, what never left me were the memories of the girls!

It dawned on me to start a sustainable initiative that will create the ideal environment for females to code, connect and collaborate.

What has been your biggest hurdle so far?

We pretty much didn’t have a lot of challenges getting our business off the ground. We’re glad we had support from interested stakeholders. A hurdle though is trying to create a community.

One of our unique value propositions is that we don’t only match our ladies to jobs, but also creating a community of women who support each other. It definitely requires a lot of time and effort to create such a sisterhood.

Coding and generally technology has so much untapped potential in Africa - Ivy Barley @devinvogue Click To Tweet

Has there ever been a time when you thought of giving up? What kept you going?

I think I have thoughts of giving up very often and I find that normal. I have however learned not to let my feelings dictate. If there is something that has to be done, I definitely need to do it and do it now!

My life is governed by one mantra: Pay Now; Play Later. That is, I would rather sacrifice now so that I can have a better future. Most importantly, I start my day with the word of God and listen to a lot of inspirational podcasts especially from Joel Osteen and Terri Savelle Foy.

 

What is your favorite thing about coding?

I particularly like that with my laptop and internet, I can create powerful software that can transform Africa and the world at large. Coding teaches you critical thinking and problem-solving skills, which are very important skills for this era.

I won’t deny that it doesn’t get difficult. When coding, you’d realize the power of a ‘simple’ semi-colon because omitting that can sometimes cause you hours of no sleep.

 

Which season is the toughest for your job? How do you overcome this?

For now, it has been keeping the community engaged. Though it has been fun doing this, it definitely needs more time investment.

I’d like to call myself the cheerleader of the team, inspiring the ladies to dream big and work hard to make them happen.

What however serves as motivation in spite of the challenges are the stories of the impact we are making in the lives of these women.

 

What, in your opinion, is the future of coding especially for girls in Africa?

Coding and generally technology has so much untapped potential in Africa. For females, the future is even brighter. Day in and day out there are so many opportunities that come up to promote women in technology.

Relevant stakeholders are beginning to realize the gender gap in the tech ecosystem and are putting measures in place to bring more women into the room.

 

What advice would you give to any girl in Africa considering coding?

Keep at it, my girl! You need to work hard in order to stay relevant. You need to keep improving your skills.

Though it may get difficult at some points, think about the big picture. Also, make time to network with people in the industry to learn best practices that can make you world-class.

If coding is truly your passion, then you definitely need a lot of diligence and determination. In case you need some support with this, I’ll be glad to offer a helping hand!

Any advice for African women entrepreneurs?

I think one advice I’d always give to people is hard work. Also, have your visions and goals in writing and review them every single day.

As women, there are so many activities that are likely to take our attention from growing our businesses. This is the more reason why we need to stay focused. Let’s do this for Africa!


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AFRICAN WOMEN IN STEM Making Lemonade out of Lemons

The field of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) has a significant disparity quota of men to women. UNESCO reports that less than a third of researchers are women in African countries such as Mali, Nigeria, Angola, and Ethiopia.

This is certainly not due to (in)ability. Rather, other factors such as social conditioning or opportunity may be responsible. For a lot of women, getting into the field requires extra grit, push and determination; even when the odds are stacked against them.

This piece centers on three African women who when faced with peculiar life challenges decided to transform them into opportunity. They managed to squeeze those lemons for all they were worth, making lemonade out of them.

The result? Amazing careers and ground-breaking contributions to the field of STEM.

 


Tebello was told not to follow her passion for the sciences, today she is one of the most influential women in STEM Click To Tweet

Professor Tebello Nyokong

Hers is literally the proverbial rags to riches tale that begets many lessons for the African woman aspiring to make something of herself. Born into a poor home, Tebello Nyokong grew up in the mountains tending to sheep. Her dream at the time was a simple one: to own a pair of shoes.

A certain hunger fuels one to achieve success when it’s obvious you have no safety net to fall back on. For Tebello, this meant no trust fund, no inheritance, no cushy job promised by her parents’ friends, no comfort zone. Thus, it was going hard or go home; because going hard was the only option.

The experience fueled her desire to succeed in life and apply doggedness to her future work. She reminded herself that she could achieve anything she put her mind to, especially anything a boy could.

Tebello Nyokong was told not to follow her natural passion for the sciences because it was considered too difficult a path. After spending two years in the arts, she eventually she completed a degree in Chemistry and Biology.

Today she is lauded as one of the most influential women in STEM. She has also received several awards and laurels for her outstanding contributions to science and technology. Her current work is focused on creating an alternative cancer treatment known as ‘photodynamic therapy’.

 

Evelyn Gitau

An accomplished woman, Evelyn Gitau is a cellular immunologist and currently a Programme Manager at the African Academy of Science – Alliance for Accelerating Excellence in Science in Africa.

She is also a Next Einstein Forum Fellow; a program which selects the brightest African scientists and technologists to provide sustainable solutions to pertinent problems, and to encourage young people to develop careers in the path as well.

Evelyn Gitau tells a story of how her young son’s illness exposed her to her area of current interest. After being taken to the hospital for a fever and trouble breathing, he was tested and subsequently diagnosed with severe malaria and bronchitis. He soon recovered and was able to thrive fully in the years that ensued.

Evelyn Gitau tells a story of how her young son’s illness exposed her to her area of current interest Click To Tweet

The experience made her realize something very important, a lot of other Africans weren’t as lucky. Communities continued to suffer from undiagnosed or misdiagnosed cases due to inadequate diagnostic facilities and funding for laboratory work.

Her findings indicated that between forty and fifty percent of infections affecting African children remained undiagnosed. As a result, medical personnel was forced to make educated guesses and children were building a resistance to antibiotics.

Her research work is centered on the development of alternative diagnostic methods and tools that are both more accurate and affordable to greatly reduce the mortality rate of children in Africa.

 

Blessing Kwomo

Growing up in a rural community in Kano State, Nigeria, Blessing Kwomo saw a lot of poverty and disease around her. All she wanted was to figure out a way to make practical changes to help the local people in her environment. She also had often recurring cases of typhoid fever.

Looking back, she realized a lot of those health challenges could have been prevented with better hygiene.

Blessing was particularly skilled in Mathematics while at school. She opted to become a nurse rather than follow her father’s path into engineering.

During her educational training, she observed that several patients were unable to achieve sustainable solutions to their illnesses. Some of these were simply as a result of low-economic standing and a poor understanding of healthcare.

Despite STEM being a path less followed by African women, it is one that holds opportunities for those who dare to dream. Click To Tweet

Taking a pragmatic approach to healthcare, Blessing Kwomo decided to start up De Rehoboths Therapeutic Studio. Through this business, she offered home consultations which tackled the root causes of the ailments afflicting her clients rather than merely providing a band-aid.

The benefit was that if her clients understood how to take better care of themselves and their environments, they would have fewer recurring cases of diseases such as typhoid fever and cholera. Blessing Kwomo also provided holistic services in addition to conventional medicine to help achieve a more seamless outcome.

Blessing has gained recognition as an Anzisha Fellow for her work and remarkable entrepreneurial drive. The young entrepreneur’s aspiration is to someday become the Minister of Health in her country.

Despite STEM being a path less followed by African women, it is one that holds immense opportunities and fulfillment for those who dare to dream. For the women profiled here, it was a challenging but rewarding path.

These women have shown us that setbacks or difficulties should not hold you back, but propel you to tap into the opportunities they presents.

 


Do you have an interest in this field?  What lemons can you exploit today? Share with us here.