In recent years, there has been an increase in the number of women in the tech space in Ghana. However, more still needs to be done to encourage more women, especially the young ones, to take up an interest in tech, build a career and become leaders in the field.
Two Data Scientists, Otema Yirenkyi and Kweyakie Afi Blebo, in realising the dream of having more women in the tech space, founded Because She Can — a women in tech organisation.
Otema and Kweyakie graduated from Ashesi University and the University of Ghana, respectively, in 2020. Otema is a Computer Engineering major, while Kweyakie is an Information Technology major.
“We’re both Akora’s. We attended Achimota School from 2013-2016. We were both on the Western compound. I in Baeta Jiagge House and Afi in OAA House. That’s where we first met,” Otema told Kuulpeeps.
“Before graduating from Uni I had zero ideas about what I wanted to do. I’ve always known I wanted to be in the Engineering or Tech space so I had an idea about that at least. For the specific career goal, I had no clue,” Otema said. But for Kweyakie, she “wanted to work as a Cyber Security Analyst and was exploring professional courses and certifications in the field.”
However, they are both passionate about everything that concerns the wellbeing of women, especially in the field of technology, which is why they founded Because She Can.
Because She Can is a community meant to foster meaningful relationships among women and girls in the tech space, and most importantly encourage and empower women to explore skills in tech. Mentorship and training programs are the two avenues Otema and Kweyakie use to encourage more girls from primary school to senior high school to explore opportunities in tech and grow themselves holistically.
“Our organization was birthed from shared interest,” Otema said. “Afi and I studied tech subjects in school. And as women in this field, we have first-hand experience on what it feels like. We realized that there is a very small representation of people who looked like us in the space we found ourselves in. We decided to be a force to change that and encourage more girls into the field. It can get very lonely and demotivating when you don’t have people to spur you on in your journey – It’s for this reason we exist. We also exist to guide people who have no idea on what career to venture into – we help them figure out if Tech will be a right fit or not.”
To encourage girls to pursue careers in tech, Otema and Kwayekie started with a social media campaign to talk about women who are already in the tech space and making impact in the field.
“We reached out to girls from university, and girls in the budding stage of their tech careers to showcase them across our social media platforms. This was to bring them to the attention of others that there are girls flourishing in the tech ecosystem,” Otema said.
“We also started monthly Clubhouse events where we have discussions that cut across professions and disciplines. Our talks are open to all men and women, techies and non-techies. We’ve had a licensed psychologist, a freelance web developer, UX Researcher, product and project managers from Microsoft and Mpharma, speak to us on topics ranging from Imposter Syndrome to developing your tech career.”
“We have more projects in the pipeline which are targeted at helping the girl child realize their potential and a lot more in the Technology space,” she added.
Otema and Kwayeki, however, admitted that it has not been easy running Because She Can since they have full-time jobs which also keeps them very busy. “Managing everything can be very tedious most times. But we believe in how impactful our organisation is and we love what we do. We keep each other going.”
They also believe that they are able to successfully run their organisation and also meet the targets at work becuase of the experience they had as student leaders.
They were both prefects in junior high school and also took up various leadership positions in senior high school and the university where they were the team leads for various academic projects.
“Being leaders in various positions since our junior high days is what we believe has equipped us with the skills to effectively manage Because She Can,” Kwayekie said.
The two industrious young women went on to reveal their future goals as Data Scientists and as business partners.
“Since I completed school, I’ve explored a lot of opportunities and I continue to read wide. So I must say with God on my side, there are more learning opportunities I’m going to be taking up,” Otema said. “With Afi, I see us lasting for a really long time. Because She Can is here to stay because the people need us. I believe it’s also important to have a friend in your co-founder or partner. It makes the journey bearable.”
For Kwayekie, she revealed that she has made it a point to open herself up to opportunities as they come. “I currently work as a Technology Auditor but I am a Data Scientist. I believe in the Tech Industry, a lot of skills are transmittable and learning does not stop thus I do not limit myself to taking up only data science opportunities. The future for me is to manage products and people in the Data Science, Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence space with Global Tech giants. For Because She Can, working with Otema is relatively easy as we have a common goal thus the future looks brighter for this partnership.”
Otema and Kweyakie, however, are determined to accomplish the purpose for founding Because She Can and hope to get a lot of girls in Ghana to take up careers in the tech space.
“We are doing what we can to see more girls in the Tech space. And most importantly see them in leadership roles. With our effort and the efforts of like organisations out there, the future of the organisation is very promising. We’re looking to get thousands of girls on board and venturing into the Tech space. We’re looking to see these girls solve essential problems for the benefit of themselves and society. In a few years, we’ll be the top name to mention when looking for women in Tech in Ghana and beyond. You heard it here first. We are going to be an inspiration for girls everywhere when they see a woman in Tech, to be able to say ‘Because She Can, So Can I’.”
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