The Women Tech Makers is a Google program that provides resources and community for women in technology to thrive and network. Google’s core goal is to inspire passionate, creative women through discussions with thought leaders, technical workshops, design sprints and networking opportunities.
Every year, Google organizes the Women Techmakers’ summit to celebrate International Women’s Day across different cities to hear and share inspiring stories, learn hands-on technology skills and celebrate women in technology all over the world.
I was excited when I got the mail informing me I made the list to attend the Lagos summit on Saturday 16 March 2019, I did not know what to expect but I knew it would be impactful, learning from experiences of women doing exploits in the tech space.
The summit started about 30 minutes behind schedule giving enough time for participants to network and have as much food as they can. The ambience was beautiful, trust Google to make every experience a great one.
HELLO GOOGLE, WELCOME TECHMAKERS — TOLULOPE AKINYELE
Google’s Tolulope Akinyemi gave the opening remark and explained the #IamRemarakable campaign strives to empower women and under-represented groups. The most striking quote from her opening remark was “IT IS NOT BRAGGING IF IT BASED ON FACTS”. It is important for women to speak about their accomplishment to the right people, self-promotion is a muscle.
FINDING YOUR VALIDATING — KEYNOTE BY TITI AKINSANMI
The opening remark lasted for about 10 minutes and Tolu introduced the keynote speaker of the day, Titi Akinsanmi, to the stage. Titi Akinsanmi is Policy and Government Relations Lead at Google. In her keynote, she told the inspiring story of her journey to tech breaking stereotypes and having the courage to challenge the status quo. 2019 makes it exactly 19 years since she has been working in the tech space.
My top takeaways from her keynote address are
- Finding your validity: don’t let anybody make you think you can’t create/make an impact in this sector based on the skill set that you have.
- Be malleable and flexible enough: Have the ability to be able to adjust, reframe and reshape such that you shape yourself to the move that you need at every point in time
- Your ability to be the best version of your self is not in isolation, it is dependent on the right support system around you
- Don’t stay stagnant, keep upscaling yourself and learn new skills
- You need to be able to shape your narrative as consistently as possible
Did I also mention she is my mentor? Remember it is not bragging if it is based on facts?
THE VIRTUAL REALITY JOURNEY WITH BLESSING ORAZULUME
I loved the tech talk session with Blessing where she shared her journey into Virtual Reality after winning a scholarship for a course on Udacity, her work with Andela and the strides she has achieved so far.
Connect with Blessing: @Blessingoraz
We went on a short lunch break, of course, there was a lot to eat and drink and it was a wonderful time to network and meet new people too.
I AM REMARKABLE, ARE YOU?
The #IamRemarakable workshop was very remarkable. The facilitators talked self-promotion and how important it is to motivate ourselves at all times as women. We were given a short task to write out why we think we are remarkable. As simple as this sound, it took a lot of thinking time and process to document the things that make me remarkable.
We need to remind ourselves to just go for it. If you do not know your narrative, no one will speak it for you.
“When someone offers you an amazing opportunity and you cannot do it, just say YES and learn to do it later” — Richard Branson
We broke out into groups for about 45 minutes to discuss self-promotion and the #IamRemarkable further. So just before you continue reading this, ask yourself, WHY AM I REMARKABLE?
KNOW YOUR WORTH, THEN ADD TAX, SAYS TOYIN OSHINOWO, Ph.D
Toyin Oshinowo’s lightning talk on “Know Your Worth — And Then Add Tax!” was amazing. She walked us through her journey to tech and bagging a PhD. She encouraged us to have the courage to question the status quo and more importantly learn to take time to love yourself, take time off work and give yourself a break.
Toyin also emphasized the need to have mentors and sponsors and she explained the difference. She ended by recommending the book SLAY IN YOUR LANE; THE BLACK GIRL BIBLE. Women in tech are in the minority, so know your worth and then add TAX!
GOT PERFORMANCE AND VISIBILITY CURRENCY? — FIRESIDE CHAT WITH NJIDEKA HARRY
I totally enjoyed the fireside session with Njideka Harry, the founder of Youth For Tech Foundation. She emphasized on mentorship and sponsorship and spoke on the need for women to identify other women they can bring up as they climb up on their journey. Mentors talk to you, sponsors talk about you. Here are a few of my key takeaways from her session:
- Competence matters but confidence goes a long way and it is really, what is needed to get out work forward.
- Performance and visibility currencies are very key to getting the right sponsors
- Performance currency — do you have performance currency? How good is the work you do?
- Visibility currency = if no one knows about your work, does it really matter?
- Life doesn’t get easy, women put on a façade a lot in the workplace share your challenges at work
- The road is windy and tough, but worth it at the end
- Allow yourself to make mistakes, don’t be too hard on yourself
- Fall with grace, fall and get up quickly
Connect with Njideka: @njidekaharry
THE COURAGE TO DECIDE — JULIET EHIMUAN
Google West Africa Director, Juliet Ehimuan gave the closing remark. She talked about choices and the need to have the courage to make the right decisions.
- You get to decide whether you are going to be visible or not, you get to decide whether your life is going to matter or not, You get to decide your dreams are valid or not, whether you deserve a seat at the table or not.
- Making these decisions require courage, we all need that courage to question and be the drivers of our lives
- Have the courage and confidence to be at the driver’s seat and be the captain of the ship that is called your life
- Have the courage the question: she told the story about how having courage helped her influence a policy change for a multinational (Shell) she worked with
- Anything is possible, so you need to always take the first steps
- Join communities of like-minded people on social media, you should also contribute to them
Connect with Juliet: @Jehimuan
There were inspiring questions and contributions from the participants too, it was well worth of my time, want to be part of the Women Techmakers community? You do not have to wait for the next summit to join the Women Techmakers community, visit womenstechmakers.com now!