It could be very easy to introduce the Managing Director of Future Software limited, Nkem Begho as the daughter of the man reputed to be Nigeria’s IT oracle, Dr. Chris Uwaje. But that definition alone is not enough to describe her. Having revolutionized her father’s start-up into full service company that excels in providing Online Solutions, E-Learning and IT Security, the software engineer explains why the technology eco-system doesn’t care whether you’re male or female as long as you’re competent.
By Laju Iren
WHAT’S life like as a female techpreneur?
I grew up without much emphasis on gender and was taught to compete with the best person, not the best woman. The tech community is one that values skill and knowledge and does not care much about gender.
I have not really faced any challenges that are peculiar to being a woman apart from being underestimated in my abilities, which I have always used to my advantage. When people underestimate you, it usually gives you the opportunity to spring a surprise and with that you could have the upper hand.
Why is there such a wide gender gap between males and females in technology in this part of the world?
The gender gap actually exists everywhere in the world and is not peculiar to Nigeria. I think that women are often raised in a way that makes them think the areas of science, technology and mathematics, are very complicated and for men only.
The lack of female role models in the tech space is another reason why there are not a lot of women who are ready to veer into this space. However it is important for women to be involved in every segment of economy and society in order to build a sustainable and all inclusive ecosystem.
What do you think can be done to solve the problem?
More women need to be introduced to technology and tech-related jobs. Most people think that working in a tech environment must require coding but there are many tech jobs that require very limited or even no coding knowledge that abound. Someone needs to build strategy, develop functionality, market and all that. All of these jobs still require an in-depth understanding of technicality; however they do not require hardcore techies. I think that in general there is lack of awareness of the types of job opportunities technology offers.
So schools need to do a better job at career planning and coaching. Furthermore the onus also lies on parents to ensure that all their children are exposed to technology and are given the chance to understand and embrace it.
The national development of Nigeria is hinged on a critical mass of people being exposed to technology. I believe that the Government also needs to ensure that there are interventions in the educational sector to ensure that technology becomes part and parcel of how Nigerian children learn.
Once it becomes the foundation of education as opposed to just a subject, we will see real change and progress in our nation.