“..tech cannot be avoided…it’s a Tsunami that is coming for all of us”
“Yes! I can wear heels and do coding while I drink champagne!” said a little girl to her parents in one of the articles we read last. Guess what, Angela Mirembe Semwogerere is here to make this dream come true for many ladies out there.
We met Angela at the Kampala Innovation week 2018 event and spoke to her during the speed-dating session. Wow! She is swift and cool and all those things but she also said…. “Ladies can no longer afford to NOT be a part of the tech community”. The way she said it made it clear that it is actually a danger to us all if ladies continue to be out of this space. We had to dig in and find out what exactly she does and how. So we scheduled her for our next #WCW series and here we are today.
“Women are the largest untapped reservoir of talent in the world” – Hillary Clinton
Angela is a Mentor and Consultant, both Paid and Pro-bono, highly skilled and experienced in these fields of business. She has a large skill set which ranges from Team leadership and management to training and customer service.
She worked as the General Manager at Kafeero Foundation from November 2017 to July 2018 after which she branches out on her own to focus on encouraging more women to Join the tech industry through Coding In Heels.
Prior to working at Africa 118, she had worked for IT companies like Techno Brain and Comtel but spent most of her working years working in the Telecommunications industry particularly Warid Telecom and Airtel.
So Angella decided she would not sit back and watch while ladies evade tech careers and be pushed outside them. She does not only encourage ladies in tech but also seeks those who have not shown interest and attracts them to start the journey, telling them of the dangers of not being a part under her initiative Coding in heels. Here is how our conversation went;
Are you a software engineer/ developer or have you ever been one?
Currently, no. I did get a peek into the world of software development when I was pursuing my Diploma in Information Systems Management as well as Certified Webmaster Certification years ago. At the time I used C# but I was more attracted to the Networking IT field so I was derailed to concentrate more on Cisco Network but Spent most of my working years in IT and Telecommunications working on different systems.
What inspired you or pushed you to do what you do and who qualifies to be a part of your program?
What inspires me to be an advocate for girls to join IT is purely based on passion and need. The passion and love for technology which I have had since I was a child and the need to see that women do not get left behind in this quickly advancing technological and digital world. Once upon a time, IT and especially Computer programming (Coding) was to be left to people of a particular gender or in a particular field but today computer programs (Code) are everywhere and is affecting all of us. Be it Facebook, Whatsapp, medical apps, self driving cars, this is all code and it’s something all people should have an idea about. Even if they do not undergo formal education to learn the basics, they can still get an idea off YouTube so they can be in the know. The President said recently that Kampala is on its path to becoming a smart city. If it indeed does become a smart city, it will be the people with Tech knowledge who will be able to obtain jobs and make use of the city’s efficient smart tools.
How do you find the ladies that you attract into software development and what do you do with them once they have accepted to start?
Well, when Coding In Heels started its first pilot class at the beginning of this year, we run an advert on social media for girls to learn the basics on Code for four months and they responded. My friend Andrew Tugume played a great role in building on this knowledge for the girls that were with us for 4 months. Once the months were done the girls could go ahead to enroll for further training with more structured organizations so as to build on their knowledge.
What are some of the common reasons girls give for not being a part of IT?
It’s quite a few reasons that hold Women back from being in the IT field from “It’s hard, you need to be ahead to in maths, IT is for men, the courses are too expensive, I do not have the infrastructure. They are all very valid personal reasons however like I always say, once upon a time one could do away with IT but today it’s a Tsunami that is coming for all of us. Whether you are male or female, young or old, black or white, educated or uneducated. It’s here and it’s only going to advance. Technology does not care about your gender, you can either simply know how to use it or you don’t.
What opportunities exist for the girls in tech?
I think right now the whole world is concentrating on how to get girls into tech so there are a lot of seminars for girls looking to join tech. There are scholarships as well. But again IT is quite wide, so one has to see the opportunities in the path they want to take be it Software development, Networking, Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, the list is really too long to exhaust. And if you can’t seem to find any opportunities, create them.
What advice would you give to a younger you that is just starting out?
Make technology your friend and learn about it so you can know the amazing positive things it can do but also equip yourself with knowledge on the wrong things that happen with technology like cyber-bullying, being hacked, etc.
What challenges have you faced in your work as you inspire the young ladies to join the tech industry?
At times people are not easily enticed and receptive to the information you want to pass onto them regarding technology. A large number of women are giving their time and resources to spread the word about Digitization and Technology but from my experience, a few people will turn up for training sessions. That is my personal experience.
Aside from her inspirational tendencies in tech, Angella is also in the business of providing awesome event planning services for bridal showers, baby showers, birthdays and more under her Angelwings company. We couldn’t help but crush on her and let her know.
If there is anyone you would love to see us feature in our #WCW series, please let us know in the comments