According to data from the National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT), only 25% of Information Technology jobs worldwide are held by women. Only 3% of those women are Black/African. There is a huge lack of diversity in the Information Technology Industry.
If you need an image of an African woman working in the IT industry, picture Hannah Olukoye!
Hannah Olukoye is a Kenyan software developer working in the IT industry. She is a graduate of Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology in Actuarial Science.
She is currently pursuing her master’s degree in Applied Information Technology at the African Nazarene University. Take a look at how her experience and expertise have opened doors for her as a Software Developer.
How did you get started in the Information Technology field?
I have always had a passion for programming even though I majored in Actuarial Science at the University. I started off with part-time courses in basic programming languages as soon as I graduated and combined that with a lot of online courses that were offered on free websites.
As an African woman, was it harder for you to enter the IT field?
I am lucky to be born in a country that believes in equality for both genders in education.
In the beginning, there were fewer women in IT compared to the numbers we see now. It was more male-dominated, especially in the local workplace. I would be in teams where we were only two female developers and sometimes, I would be the only female Information Technology expert.
What changes do you foresee in Software Development across Africa?
I see tremendous growth in the number of women sticking to IT, especially when you look at programs like AkiraChix and GADS that are providing more opportunities for developers. These programs provide opportunities to not only learn how to code but also teach them how to make their work stand out.
I am now part of a team-building an Android application that will use machine learning, algorithms to provide solutions to health workers across Africa. I gained confidence in my knowledge through the community.
Would you encourage African women to pursue a career in Information Technology?
Yes, I would! Most women have a hard time being in the IT field because they are treated unfairly and even underpaid, compared to their male colleagues.
This causes many women to be unable to advance in their careers. One of my goals would be to attain more senior roles in companies or organizations that are leading in the Tech field and change the status quo.