To not miss out on any new articles, consider subscribing.
While life can be trying and sometimes daunting, I have seen women show up boldly, resiliently, and fearlessly nonetheless. I’ve seen intelligent and driven women dare to chase their goals, against the odds, and go against whatever limits have been set for them.
Today is International Women’s Day, and to commemorate this year’s celebration, as a WomenTechmakers ambassador, I have put together an article with contributions from seven amazing women in my circle, in different works of life, sharing ways they have dared to dream, dared to go against the norm, and dared to be.
- Zainab Ayodimeji, Data Scientist
I have been working in analytics for over 5 years and at Spotify for about 2 years now. I hold a Bachelor’s degree in Agricultural & Biosystems Engineering and a Master’s degree in Advanced Mechanical Engineering with Management. While I’ve always had an interest in statistics and programming, my transition from engineering to data science began while studying for a statistics course during my Master’s program. From there, I took many courses online and was consistently learning and inserting myself in data communities and forums online. I have always had an affinity for data visualization but really took it up during the lockdown and started using Tableau. I participated in a weekly challenge called #makeoverMonday where people redo data visuals and interpret them in their own way. Through that, I was able to develop my skills, create a portfolio, and interact with other community members that were also involved in the challenge. All these gave me visibility and ultimately landed me the Tableau Public ambassadorship.
I think my entire career path is an example of me daring to be. In secondary school, many people “advised” me not to study engineering because “I can’t climb electric poles or lift heavy metals and it was better suited for men”. Of course, none of that was true and only fueled my ambition even more. In transitioning to tech, I have been in many rooms where I was the only woman or one of the few women present. However, I have never once let myself be intimidated by this; even when someone once told me in an android development class that “women should go into design and not coding because they know fashion and understand colors”. There is absolutely nothing wrong with either of those, in fact, I love design (through my visualizations) and fashion (through my personal style), but at the time, I’m sure I was told that because they felt anything other than design in tech could be too difficult for me as a woman. We have a long way to go in terms of the inclusion of women in technical roles, especially in senior / leadership roles but it is way better than it was years ago and I am super inspired by the women I see doing amazing things in their own little or big ways!
You can find Zainab on LinkedIn, Twitter, and here’s her Tableau Public profile where she shares jaw-dropping vizzes.
- Glory Ibanga, Content writer and Law student
My journey to the legal profession formally began in 2015, as a freshman at the University of Uyo. During my time there, I tried my hands at different activities that piqued my interest. These activities ranged from politics to oratory to administration etc., holding several leadership positions. I also honed my legal skills by signing up for virtual and physical internship opportunities I came across, like the Kennedys Virtual Experience Program. On the side, I developed my content writing skills by working for a community of working women as a freelance writer and writing on my Medium where I share personal stories laden with humor and lessons. As a legal practitioner, I desire to contribute my quota, in little and in big ways, to create an equitable and peaceful society for all.
In a world where people shy away from being themselves, I dare to be me, every day. I dare to embrace my unique story and share the same with the world, despite its imperfections. It has always been my desire to share my experiences with others, but then I wonder if my story is good enough. However, I have chosen to listen to the dictates of my desire, because in most cases, they are compasses guiding us in the way we should go. I started writing on Medium in 2020, despite the self-critic voice or irresistible desire to compare my writing style with the big names I see on the web. This notwithstanding, I have dared to show up every Thursday with a new article, even when it isn’t the most fun thing to do. In the long run, I’ve built a community of persons whose personal stories resonate with mine. A tribe of persons who are kinder to their personal imperfections and struggles on their distinct paths. Looking back, I’m happy I dared to share myself with the world and use my emotions to paint colorful words in space.
Glory shares her story on Medium, Instagram, and you can find her on LinkedIn too.
- Edidiong Essien, Senior Research Associate
On first thought about the phrase “dare to be”, it was easy for me to conclude I have never had to dare. So, I am appreciative of this theme and the opportunity to share my story as it has made me reflect on my journey, realize when I had to dare and be reminded to be proud of myself.
I work in biotech as a senior research associate, with a group that develops the processes that bring curative genome editing treatments to patients with rare diseases. I work collaboratively with teams of scientists and engineers to improve our drug formulations during the early development stages. While I am still a young scientist, the journey to this point in my career has involved a series of daring. Circumstances leading up to me having my current job have involved a series of audacious decisions and believing that the science I was interested in learning, and eventually making a career, was worthwhile. I chose to study biotechnology as my undergraduate major in Nigeria, and this decision was a joke to many, due to some gender biases, but especially because it is not a professional degree with known career possibilities in the country.
Consequently, I had to fight back the resistance I experienced. While the remarks I got to choose another course to study (like Pharmacy) were out of concern, I dared to dream regardless. Studying biotechnology caused me to stand out, exposed me to research I would otherwise not be involved in and opened doors of opportunities for me to do science that will produce life-changing medicines for patients.
Looking back, I am sure most of the people who initially doubted my decision are proud of me and were simply reacting based on their knowledge at the time. Being firm with my life and career decision created a learning opportunity and an avenue for growth both for me and for them as well. I would also like to note that I had people who believed that I was making the right decision and supported me. I have also been blessed with great teachers and mentors along the way that have offered valuable advice to me. This reinforces the importance of allies and how a great mentor could change your life and has therefore influenced the way I relate to people.
To young women: Dare to dream! Dare to be!
To everyone, especially allies: Never kill a dream because you do not understand it.
You can connect with Edidiong on LinkedIn.
- Valerie Okon, Content creator and Pharmacist
I am a Content creator, Beauty influencer, and Pharmacist based in Nigeria. I have been in the beauty industry for 3+ years putting out helpful & exciting beauty and lifestyle content. I have also worked with several brands, helping them communicate the essence of their products/services to my audience through content creation.
One instance where I dared to be was when I decided to take content creation seriously. I mean, it was something I began very casually in 2020 during the pandemic and I had no idea I could even earn from it. When the pandemic was over and everyone was back to their normal lives, I got back to school and I remember questioning myself if this was something I really wanted to do.
I understood that juggling pharmacy school and content creation was not going to be an easy feat and indeed, it wasn’t. At first, it was difficult to find a balance between these two priorities, and to be honest, I actually never found a balance. There were times when I felt like I was neglecting one or the other, or like I didn’t have enough time for everything. I realized that most times I would take a long break because of school and when I come back I would be crippled by self-doubt and so much anxiety.
However, I found ways to overcome this and kept pushing. I started to focus on the positive feedback I was receiving from my audience. I also reminded myself of the hard work and dedication that I put in and I was surrounded by the best and most supportive people ever who never stopped cheering me on.
While it wasn’t always easy, and there were certainly moments of stress and exhaustion, I have been able to create content that I am proud of and that resonates with my audience. Today, I’m finally a graduate of Pharmacy and I’m currently earning from content creation, only because I dared to be, and I’m super proud of myself for that.
You can check out Valerie on Instagram.
- Ruth Ikegah, Open Source Consultant
I transitioned from Microbiology to Tech in 2020, self-learning how to code in Python and Django. I started contributing to Open Source early on in my tech career and went ahead to create a niche advocating for tech newbies in Open Source. Due to my dedication and commitment, I emerged as the first female African GitHub star, amongst other awards and recognitions. I currently work as an Open Source Consultant at Bitergia and serve as the Community Lead for CHAOSS Africa. You’d mostly see me helping beginners get into tech and open source through my talks, articles, and social media engagements.
On daring to be, sometime in 2022, I decided I wanted to transition to full-time Open Source program management. I left my job as a Technical writer to search for a job in Open Source. I had people reach out to me to take up Technical Writing offers, but I didn’t take them because I knew what I wanted and decided to stick to it and wait for a role in a space I truly wanted. After a year, I eventually got a job as an Open Source Consultant. I dared to prioritize fulfillment in that situation–going from a job that paid well to unemployment, searching for what I truly loved.
You can find Ruth on Twitter and LinkedIn.
- Akondu Ako, Technical writer and Frontend developer
As we celebrate International Women’s Day, I reflect on my journey and the times I dared to stand out. After completing a degree in biochemistry, I found myself drawn to the tech industry, where I started out in front-end development and then transitioned to technical writing. For many women, navigating a career in male-dominated industries can be challenging, and it often requires taking bold steps. One of the times when I dared to “be” was when I decided to abandon my career in biochemistry to pursue my passion for technology. The field of tech is incredibly uncertain, with rapid advances in technology and constant disruption to traditional business models, and I was fully aware of the uncertainty involved. However, I was also excited by the potential for innovation and the opportunity to be at the forefront of change. I recognized that the uncertainty in tech is what makes it such an exciting and dynamic field to work in. It requires constant learning, adaptation, and a willingness to take risks and embrace new ideas. I knew that this decision would require me to work harder, be more resilient, and constantly learn new skills.
As a woman in tech, I have encountered many challenges and obstacles along the way–from gender biases and stereotypes to imposter syndrome and the need to constantly prove myself, navigating a career in tech can be tough. However, I have also experienced many successes and moments of pride, including being part of teams that have developed innovative products and solutions, receiving recognition for my work, and mentoring other women in the industry.
As we celebrate International Women’s Day, I believe it is essential to recognize the importance of having more women in tech. Diversity in the tech industry brings a range of perspectives, experiences, and skills, which can lead to more innovative and inclusive solutions. I also believe that it is crucial to create a supportive and empowering environment for women in tech. This includes providing mentorship and career development opportunities, promoting work-life balance, and encouraging a culture of inclusivity and respect.
On this International Women’s Day, let us celebrate the accomplishments of women, recognize the need for greater diversity, and continue to work towards creating a more inclusive and empowering world for all.
You can connect with Akondu on LinkedIn and Medium.
- Favour Adeniyi, Product Designer
My tech career started in my first year of college at Marymount University. I had taken a web development class in my first semester and I was intrigued by how you could build anything you wanted through code. In my second semester, I attended a PNC Bank Summit for college students and I heard one of the speakers talk about design thinking. I had never heard of this term before so I researched what it was, and that was the day I decided to become a Product Designer. My passion was always solving problems that affected people’s daily lives, and through Product Design, I can do this. In college, I had two Product Design internships. My first internship was at Mastercard and my second was at Microsoft. Now, I work full-time at Microsoft creating commerce solutions for our commerce products.
In my first Product Design internship at Mastercard, I dared to be the best Product Design intern my team had ever had. This was my first real-world industry experience, which can make one anxious, but I showed up every day going above and beyond. I took on challenging tasks and projects, I was curious to learn and I wanted to be impactful and valuable to my team. One thing I learned during this internship was to make my manager and stakeholders look good by delivering excellence and being a good collaborator. At the end of my internship, my manager, who was a VP at that time, told me that I exceeded all expectations he had of me and that I was his favorite intern ever. I dared to be the best, and dare I say, I wasn’t only the best, I was exceptional. My intern project went into production and is now live in the market. You see, exceptional work!
You can find Favour on LinkedIn, Medium, YouTube, and Instagram.
I would really like to thank these awesome women for taking the time to share their stories with me and thank you too for reading up to this point. You can read my story of how I dared to be here. I hope that these stories have helped inspire you and motivate you in some way. I know that it may not always be easy, but you can keep going. You can keep holding on, showing up regardless of all life’s hurdles.
To our allies who support us, we see you, we appreciate your efforts, and we need more of it. Thank you.
And to you dear woman, you are strong, you are able, you can be whatever you want to be; dare to be, and don’t settle for less.
Happy International Women’s Day!
Thank you for reading,
To not miss out on any new articles, consider subscribing.
Thank you for sharing my story! Glad to be a part of this, and reading about the journeys of these wonderful ladies.
Thank you so much for sharing your story with us. It’s really inspiring and motivating to see that it all worked out in the end. You’re really brave and I’m so proud of you!