#GirlsInICT: Caribbean women leading in STEM

Date: Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Janique-ka John

 


Janique-ka John

Frontend Engineer at MEDIAGENIX (Belgium) and Founder of Women in Tech.- St. Vincent & the Grenadines

What inspired your interest in software engineering?

The most attractive aspect of software engineering to me has always been problem solving. I love coming up with solutions to problems I identify, and software and technology have been my tools for that from a very young age. With software engineering, within 24 hours you can identify, develop and deploy a solution that has a global reach or scope, thanks to the power of the internet. In other fields you may need access to expensive or specialized equipment, or furthermore have bureaucratic bodies you must first pass in order for your work to reach the masses. In this field you often just need a computer and stable internet access!
What is the greatest challenge for women in your profession?
Retention has proven to be difficult as it pertains to women in my profession. It’s a rather important metric that we often forget, as right now there is a lot of focus on getting girls into coding early and getting them into the pipeline. Unfortunately, many who eventually do join the field end up dropping out, due to feeling unsupported, being excluded or held back from promotions due to prejudice and unfortunately even sexual harassment in male-intensive circles and events.

It can indeed be difficult to work as a woman in any male-dominated field, but finding community (such as Women in Tech communities) can bring feelings of belonging and safety..
What needs to change to better support and empower women and girls pursuing careers in ICT and STEAM?
We need to connect Caribbean women who are already happy and thriving in these industries, with girls who are thinking about pursuing such a career path. This ensures that invaluable advice and lessons from roads already trod are passed on to our younger generations. This could also lead to more favourable retention numbers, as support and mentorship might be just what someone needs to stay in the field. (see this paper).
What is your advice to young women and girls who want to pursue a career path in your industry?
Practice, practice. practice. In the software engineering industry you can spend time perfecting the craft on your own, by building software to solve problems you identify with very little friction. Having projects that show your passion for the field is attractive to employers, and all around a great way to just learn! Additionally, the difference between a good software engineer and one that is not performing well is often just a lot of practice.

Danielle Mullings

 


Danielle Mullings

Caribbean & Americas representative on the Young Experts Tech 4 Health Youth council, President of the Faculty of Science and Technology Guild Committee at the University of the West Indies Mona, UWI Mona Guild President Elect 2021/22 (Jamaica)

What inspired your interest in animation and design?

I am interested in Software Engineering and Documentary Film making. I've loved computers and cameras since prep school where I first started challenging my computing teacher to teach the topic before I could learn it. It really stems from a curiosity for life, an eagerness to learn and a love for strategizing and problem solving.
What is the greatest challenge for women in your profession?
I believe the greatest challenge for women in my profession is the absence of role models. It can be easy to assume that you shouldn't be in a room that you don't typically see yourself in. I also believe that we are sometimes inadvertently assumed to not be as competent as our male counterparts. Women must work twice as hard to show their competence in my field.
What needs to change to better support and empower women and girls pursuing careers in ICT and STEAM?
We need more mentors for our young women in STEAM. Mentorship has been a huge part of my journey. I also believe that this goes hand in hand with a need for more stories of women scientists to be shared. This can show our young women that they too can be just as successful as the women who have gone before them.
What is your advice to young women and girls who want to pursue a career path in your industry?
Get started! It doesn't matter how small a first step you take. Each step you take towards learning STEAM is important. I also believe that fundamentally as young people we need to believe in ourselves more and uplift our fellow young women regardless of their passions. Each one, helps one. I encourage each of you to shine a positive light on the communities you exist within - become a beacon of hope and light.

Godiva Golding

Godiva Golding

Founder, STEAM House Network – Jamaica

What inspired your interest in technology?

Growing up, I really loved the sciences and math but I also loved the idea of making designs, models from trash which helped to solve big problems. When I got to university, a new world opened up for me with my introduction to coding and electronics. Possibilities to create began to look endless.
What is the greatest challenge for women in your profession?
Many women end up being the “firsts” in their fields in tech not for lack of competence but rather culture. From time to time, people will question your competence simply for being a woman and there are times might question if you belong in this profession. Spoiler alert: You always belonged here.

What needs to change to better support and empower women and girls pursuing careers in ICT and STEAM?
Mentorship makes a difference in feeling supported once pursuing a career in STEAM. This includes mentorship from both men and women who have walked your path and also peer mentorship. There’s so much growing you can do when we walk a path together.

What is your advice to young women and girls who want to pursue a career path in your industry?
Plant seeds early and often. I think it’s important to remember that life is filled with lagging indicators as relationships you develop or actions you take right now won’t give you results immediately. Practice patience and perseverance. Don’t be afraid to pursue the future you want.

 


Jerelle Joseph

Dr. Jerelle Joseph

Founder, CariScholar, and Junior Research Fellow, King’s College - Dominica
What is the greatest challenge for women in your profession?
Working in a male-dominated field (soft matter/biophysics), women often suffer from imposter syndrome.
What needs to change to better support and empower women and girls pursuing careers in ICT and STEAM?
We need to deconstruct our ideas about the roles of girls and women in society. Girls need to be empowered from an early age. This involves ensuring that they have good mentors who can support and guide them.
What is your advice to young women and girls who want to pursue a career path in your industry?
Surround yourself with people who are driven and motivated. Find good mentors (e.g., lecturers) and ask them plenty questions. Don’t be afraid to step outside of your comfort zone. Remain curious and believe that you can achieve anything that you work hard at!