W.TEC launched the first female-only technology camp in Nigeria in 2008. Over the last seven years, the W.TEC’s Girls Camp has emerged as a leading resource in introducing young women to ICT and equipping them to think about their contributions to Nigerian society. Consequently, W.TEC has been widely recognized within and outside Nigeria for its contributions to closing the ICT gender gap and honoured with the Anita Borg Change Agent award (2009) as well as the Ashoka Fellowship (2013) and Vital Voices Lead Fellowship (2014) for W.TEC’s Executive Director – Oreoluwa Somolu Lesi based on her work with W.TEC.
Data collected from 2008 to 2013 camp alumnae in 2013 indicate that:
a) 75% of the participants developed strong skills and confidence using ICT; 33% of the girls gained a strong understanding of how to better apply ICT to support their respective career aspirations; 25% of the participants indicated a desire to pursue a technology-related career following the W.TEC camp and have been pursuing further study in ICT.
b) 16% of the participants have been using the Web Development, Social Media & Blogging and Graphic Design skills they gained at the camp. They have used these skills in various capacities in their schools, to support their parents’ businesses, to support their own personal interests (e.g. club activities) and earning revenue from them.
All the girls indicate an interest in integrating technology in their educational pursuits, personal lives and future careers to varying extents, even if they do not plan on pursuing a strictly technology-related course of study.
This means that the camp has so far had some success in dispelling stereotypes of gender-appropriateness of technology, providing information about technology careers and practical applications of technology, presenting female technical role models and providing access to mentorship and emphasizing the importance of education.
Following the camp, W.TEC provides numerous opportunities for alumnae to showcase and hone their technology development skills. So, for instance, W.TEC organized a hackathon in April 2014, co-hosted the NASA Space Apps Challenge and organized teams to participate in the global Technovation mobile apps competition. Alumnae were invited to these programmes and offered the opportunity to deepen their development skills and successfully created mobile applications and learned to programme robots.
In addition, alumnae are invited to each annual Girls Technology camp to serve as volunteer instructors. This has two effects: firstly, it showcases the alumnae to the incoming class; and secondly, it gives the alumnae the opportunity to further deepen their technology skills and increase their confidence creating technology.
Feedback indicates that 58% of our alumnae are using technology to promote their businesses, connect to economic and networking opportunities, for research, educating about women’s rights and coordinating professional networks (http://www.esnips.com/web/i4d).
Partnerships with the Government & Contributions to Public Policy:
W.TEC strives to contribute to the discussions around policy that influence access to ICT, especially for women and girls. In 2013, W.TEC was invited to partner with the Nigerian government, through the federal Ministry of Communication Technology to help launch a network of technology clubs for secondary school girls. W.TEC helped developed curriculum for the club and trained the club managers for the pilot phase, which was launched in 2014.
In 2011, W.TEC, as part of a sub-committee of experts, reviewed the gender section of the draft science and technology policy. In 2010, W.TEC worked with a team to draft a policy document for broadband deployment in Nigeria.
W.TEC’s research has explored women’s use of information technology for their economic and social development. The latest research project, the ‘Radio for Women’s Development’ project (2011), which was funded by the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) explored if radio has led to any tangible socio-economic changes in the lives of three groups of Nigerian women. The results were published in 2013 and are available online: Article on Nokoko: http://www.carleton.ca/africanstudies/wp-content/uploads/7-Nokoko-3-Radio-for-Women%E2%80%99s-Development.pdf
When W.TEC started our work in 2008, there was very little knowledge about the gender digital divide in Nigeria, why it existed and why it was important to close it. W.TEC was one of the few organizations working in this area and we have engaged in a lot of awareness-raising over the years through trainings, speaking at conferences and other events, interviews in the media, and presenting the results and alumnae of our programmes as strategies to educate the wider public about the importance of gender equality in ICTs.
Now there is more understanding about the benefits of closing the gender digital divide and more government agencies and companies are expressing interest in supporting initiatives to encourage more girls and women in ICT learning, use and careers.
In 2015, W.TEC reached 5,016 women and girls through our programmes
In 2014, W.TEC reached 1,632 women and girls through our programmes; and 2,679 people through its speaking engagements
In 2013, W.TEC reached 2,207 women and girls; 21 teachers through its programmes; and no les than 612 people through its speaking engagements
In 2012, W.TEC reached 2,397 women and girls
In 2011, W.TEC reached 1,713 women and girls
In 2010, W.TEC reached 1,500 women and girls through its programs and through collaborations with other organisations (including IBM, Women Living Under Muslim Law, Technology Times, BAOBAB For Women’s Human Rights, Association for Progressive Communications)
In 2008 and 2009, W.TEC’s programs alone and with partners have impacted 230 women and girls directly and 417 people via our mailing lists and online group.