Africa University Innovation Manager selected for global TechWomen Programme
i5Hub Manager Miss Yollanda Washaya has been selected for the 2022 cycle of the TechWomen Programme from among 4600 applicants that is set to run from the 23rd of February to the 31st of March 2022. The programme is in its 11th year and will see 108 women drawn from Africa, Central and South Asia and the Middle East participate in a 5- week course that is designed to bring emerging women leaders in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) from these regions together with their professional counterparts in the United States for a mentorship and exchange program.
TechWomen provides participants access to networks, resources and knowledge to empower them to reach their full potential. During the five-week program, participants will engage in project-based mentorships at leading companies in the San Francisco Bay Area, participate in professional development workshops and networking events, and will travel to Washington, DC. for targeted meetings and special events at its conclusion (https://www.techwomen.org/).
Outlining what she hopes to gain from the experience, Yollanda said,
“I look forward to learning about the idea incubation process from some of the leading tech companies in the world and bringing that experience back to Africa University and the community. Africa University is a campus that encourages innovation at varying levels of the university social spheres from academics, to administrative staff, to students and through outreach in the community. I intend on tapping into the mentorship opportunities that the programme will offer to learn more about how global organizations streamline and nurture this environment at all levels. I am extremely excited most of all about the learning, exchange of ideas and partnerships with my colleagues from other countries that I shall forge through this programme.”
The area of STEM is male dominated globally but is especially pronounced in Africa with women only constituting 30% of the workforce in this field according to Project Syndicate. There has been an intentional shift in academic curricula in Zimbabwe and the continent to integrate STEM into education at an earlier stage making these subjects less intimidating, easily accessible and more streamlined into the educational development of African youth. This has come from a realisation that innovation drives economies and is the wellspring from which fresh ideas and perspectives flow that make headway towards solving Africa’s challenges internally.
Yollanda went on to expand on why the programme is so important for young women in the tech field and the benefit that she will bring back upon its completion.
“Africa still lags behind in innovation and I see myself being one of the professionals who will be counted amongst those who propelled innovation on the continent. My goal towards building a community of innovators will be realised as a result of my TechWomen experience. This impact will not only be for my immediate community but also marginalized communities as I embark on outreach projects at Africa University and through other partners. This I believe will have a greater impact on the smaller communities in realising their potential and will also encourage young women to participate and get into tech.”
TechWomen is an initiative of the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) and is managed by the Institute of International Education (IIE).