Men have been dominant in the field of science and technology over the last century. The same can be said about Computer Science studes, most of the software and devices we use are attributed to the work of men, leaving behind the women working tirelessly in technology with little or no recognition.
What people fail to acknowledge is that the world's first computer programmer was a woman called Ada Lovelace. Thanks to her notes on the Analytical Engine which is recognized as the first algorithm which was intended to be carried out by a machine.
Without Lovelace's work, there would have been no such discipline as computer science.
Every month I will highlight on one African woman breaking down technology barriers. Regina Agyare is a software developer and social entrepreneur with a passion for using technology to cause a social change. She started a social enterprise called Soronko Solutions.
Soronko Solutions is a social enterprise and a software development company. It builds affordable technology solutions across different channels for SMEs and also empowers young girls to lead and innovate by creating technology and coding.
I sat down with Regina to learn more about her work. I hope you enjoy her story and are inspired.
iAfrikan: Tell us about yourself.
Regina Agyare: I am a young Ghanaian woman who believes in using technology to drive social change. I come from a family of six. I have three siblings. I have always been a very curious individual who is always ready to challenge the status quo and think outside the box. I love watching movies and eating.
Why did you choose a career in Information Technology?
Well as a child, I was good in mathematics and science and was told that I would be a (medical) doctor. So I spent time writing essays on myself and starting with "My Name is Regina and when I grow up I want to be a doctor" All that changed in class 6 when my father brought home a computer.
I played pacman and fell in love with it. I wanted to build my own pacman. That was when I decided to pursue a career in Information Technology.
I wanted to use the computer to create things.
When did you realise it was time to quit your job and venture into entrepreneurship ?
Well quitting a well-paid job is never easy especially to pursue an entrepreneurial venture. The world of entrepreneurship is a roller-coaster ride with loads of ups and downs.
The day I quit I did not know when I woke up that I was going to quit. I had this strong urge that day that I had to quit. I had been thinking about it but never found the courage to do it.
That day it was like ripping of a bandage. I just quit. I learnt that I had more courage than I thought I had and that if you are very passionate about something don’t let anything stand in your way.
In summary don’t deny your dreams.
I never saw myself as an entrepreneur. I thought it was too risky. I preferred to rise through the ranks in Corporate Ghana.
When I realized that I could solve a problem I had identified and create value, I decided to take the risk and start my own entrepreneurial venture.
Tell us about your about your business Soronko Solutions.
Soronko Solutions is a social enterprise with a for profit where we build affordable technology solutions across different channels for SMEs.
We are also non-profit where we empower young girls to lead and innovate by creating technology and coding. We are also working on an app to convert text to sign language for deaf children.
What are your views on getting young girls involved in and keep them involved in STEM?
We get young girls involved into STEM by showing them that STEM and coding is fun.
We use Azonto to teach Algorithms and we teach the subject matter in a practical way with STEM games and puzzles.
The girls get to code things that are important to them. We ensure that the girls learn STEM through interaction with female role models in STEM and that the curriculum we teach is fun and creative
*What myths do you feel women need to break to access the tech community?
I always say that in most cases, the only limits are the ones you set for yourself. Technology is not just for boys. Women are not naturally inclined to do more of the arts subjects.
Technology is not difficult and boring. You don’t have to be a socially awkward because of technology. You can do technology work from anywhere, make lots of money and still have an active social life.
What is the most important lesson you've learnt in your journey so far?
I learnt to never give up.
I made some mistakes that caused to me to lose a lot, but because I never gave up, I was able to correct the mistakse and got bigger benefits and opportunities.
What are your words of advice to young women?
My advice to young women is for them to try and be better than me.
I would always doubt myself and doubt my potential. I realized that I could do so much. I want young women to never doubt that God has blessed them to be more than they ever imagined possible.
Don’t deny your dreams or set any limits. Go out there and live your life exploring your full potential. Don’t be afraid to fail. Failure is the best teacher and it a hurdle that makes you stronger so that you get to your destination.
I would also advice young women that being bold, intelligent and articulate is great. So be yourself and be all you can be. If you do that you would have made the world a little better than you met it.
Editor's Note: Watch Regina's feature on CNN below.
Cover Image Credit: Soronko Solutions