Becoming a Tech Evangelist Promoting STEM for Girls & Women

Carolyn Seaman
Posted April 24, 2019 from Nigeria

I graduated from the University and could not use the computer because digital literacy was still emerging at the time. Very few skilled trainers were available, and it was not only expensive to enroll to learn the basics of using a computer, it also required time investment. Unfortunately, my schooling calendar was not one that afforded me the luxury of enrolling in a computer programme. By the time I was concluding my undergraduate program, I had only enrolled in an intensive 2 weeks programme that taught me the basics of browsing the internet and setting up an email which I believed would get me through simple communication throughout my law school programme and to secure a good job. What I did not realize at the time was that basic computer skills, particularly Microsoft Office skills, had fast become a standard requirement to secure a good job.

After I completed my Law School Programme and my compulsory one year youth corps service as an education instructor to recruit officers and paralegal in the Military Police Unit in the Artillery Brigade where I worked during my youth service, I was exploring a job opportunity in a consulting firm as a project officer. During my job interview, my prospective boss at the time asked me, ‘How proficient is your computer skills?’ And I answered, in all honesty and sudden fear that the road to my dream job had ended because of my computer skills limitation, ‘Sir, I can only use the computer to browse the internet for basic searches and to check emails.’ And he specifically inquired again, ‘So, you don’t know how to type a letter in Microsoft Word or develop a sheet in Microsoft Excel?’ And I responded even less confidently, ‘No Sir, I can try but it will probably take me a while to figure it out because I have not deliberately learned the skills or even practiced the skills enough.’ But I quickly added, as if to attempt to save the job I was already throwing myself out of before I got the chance to explore it, ‘I am a really fast learner if I am given the opportunity to build and develop my computer skills.

I was fortunate to secure the job and experience the opportunity to build my computer skills from near-nothing to where I am today. My boss, at the time, gave me about 2 months to build my skills by literally learning on the job and I maximized the opportunity and developed myself. The organization also invested in a professional Microsoft Office training by a certified Microsoft Trainer which I also leveraged to push myself further. In a little over a year, my laptop had become a very close companion that I could not imagine my life without it around me or easily accessible to me. Over my years on the job, I grew and built additional computer skills that have gone on to open opportunities for me in the technology ecosystem. I must acknowledge my supporters and enablers who have inspired the tech leadership I champion for girls and women today.

Today, I am a proud tech evangelist fueled by my passion to promote Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) among adolescent girls and women in my country. My organization, Girls Voices Initiative, works to educate girls about their rights and empower girls to champion advocacy for the protection of their rights and we build girls skills in technology and digital media through which they can innovate creative ideas to champion their advocacy. Some of the highlight programs we have led include the Tech Girls Advocacy Program that empowered 100 girls in the public secondary school system with digital literacy and advanced digital skills in coding, digital art/illustration, photography, filmmaking, creative writing, and research using Google Tools. The girls used the skills they had learned to carry out projects to amplify their advocacy to end child marriage, end gender-based violence, and promote girl’s education. The outputs of the TGAP included website & mobile app development, cartoon illustrations/animations, photography illustration/story-telling, film production, poetry & prose development, and research report writing. Also, my recent posts shared highlights about out #GirlsInnovate and #WomenInnovate outreach to empower girls and women with tech skills as part of the #BalanceForBetter global campaign to mark the International Women’s Day #IWD2019 and the theme, ‘Think Equal, Build Smart, Innovate for Change’. Watch the video highlights! In celebration of the International Day of Girls in ICT, we would be train adolescent girls in coding skills and prepare them for a local hackathon competition with the winning team proceeding to represent Nigeria in a global hackathon competition for high school girls around the world. STEM Girls Rock! Tech Girls Rock!

This story was submitted in response to Girls in ICT Day.

Comments 10

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ARREY- ECHI
Apr 25
Apr 25

Dear Sis Carolyn,
Hope you are doing great today.
Beautiful recap of your journey into the IT world and all that you have done so far from that humble beginning. Bosses who help others soar are the best.
Keep evangelizing for more girls in STEM.
Love and hugs,
Arrey

Jill Langhus
Apr 25
Apr 25

Hello Lovely Carolyn,

How are you doing, dear? I love, love your IWD video. How cute and excited they all are... very inspiring:-) Thanks also for sharing your introduction to the ICT world. I'm glad you persevered so that you could empower all these girls! What is a hackathon competition? Looking forward to hearing all about it!

Hope you're having a great day, and week!

Maya Iwata
Apr 25
Apr 25

Carolyn,
Thank you for sharing your story and this wonderful video! STEM Girls Rock! Women in Tech Rock! You Rock! I love how you integrated helping the girls learn about World Pulse and its supportive community because where I live and in other places working in tech can be a difficult working environment for a number of women so it's great for them to have a place to come to for support. Thank you for sharing your story and for change you are bringing for women and girls.

Fanka
Apr 25
Apr 25

Hey,
Thanks for sharing to the world your introduction. To ICT and your innovative idea of bringing and empowering girls with ICT skills

Raquel Daniel
Apr 26
Apr 26

Indeed, STEM rocks!
You are doing an amazing job!.... We need to connect.

Dawn Arteaga
Apr 26
Apr 26

WOW Carolyn! You keep making me more and more amazed by your incredible work. You can feel the energy and excitement from the women and girls in the video. We are SO, SO lucky to have you as an Ambassador. Congratulations!

Lisbeth
May 06
May 06

How are you? Great personal improvement, thanks for sharing it.

Hello, Sister Carolyn,

You are really an inspiration. I'm glad that your former boss hired you and trained you to learn more about ICT skills. Look at where you are today, you multiplied the opportunity granted to you. I'm so proud of you, and I celebrate you and your successful STEM campaigns!

leila Kigha
Jun 13
Jun 13

Dear sister,
your journey is an encouragement.
You make us all believe it is possible to be tech savy.
cheers to all the STEM converts you keep making!
keep on keeping on

Beth Lacey
Jun 20
Jun 20

Hi, Carolyn. I enjoyed reading your article.

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