Faces of slavefreetrade: Women in Tech interview with Nneka Edozien
Nneka Edozien is a Web Developer at slavefreetrade, where she contributes her technical skills and extensive experience in web development, data analysis and digital communication to support slavefreetrade’s mission of eliminating modern slavery. She discusses what it’s like to work in the tech industry as a woman and shares some advice for other young women aspiring to enter this field.
Could you tell us more about yourself and your professional background? What motivated you to join slavefreetrade?
Based in Geneva for several years now, I started out as an intern for 6 months doing data work for WHO and have since then had the opportunity to work as a web development consultant on various web and data projects for both international organizations and NGOs. Coming from a country where modern day slavery is widely practiced (especially affecting young children), I wanted to find a place where I could be part of the movement to eradicate this harmful practice. I came across slavefreetrade online as they were offering an opportunity to work as a web developer. I took it as a great opportunity to be actively part of a group of dedicated teams fighting to end modern day slavery globally. Using my skills in web development, I hope to contribute more to the mission of the organization through the website platform.
Did you always know that working in tech was what you wanted to do? How did you decide to go into web development?
I had always loved finding solutions to problems at a very young age. I vividly remember that at the age of 10, I wanted to become an electronics engineer but at some point in my life, I took an interest in developing websites as a hobby. I later decided to pursue a degree in computer science.
As a woman in the tech industry, have you ever encountered a situation where the gender gap had an impact on you? How did you manage to overcome that?
Well, I have had instances where I felt that being a woman impacted the decisions of hiring managers. Some of this turned out positive, as [these managers] wanted to close the gender gap in the company or in departments dominated by mostly men. I have also had moments in university being one of the few women in my Computer Science class, where I was misjudged on my technical skills and I had to keep proving that I could be as good as men in my field.
Why do you think that there is still a gender gap in the tech industry, and what can be done to get more women to join?
Personally, I think that people in general, and especially women, might be intimidated by this field at first, and feel that it can be quite difficult to understand some of the concepts. There needs to be more awareness in the form of programmes or workshops for young women on working in the tech field and letting them know that they can accomplish just as much as men in this field.
From your experience, what has been the best part of being a woman working in tech? Why is it important to have more women leading in such roles?
The best part is knowing that I can and have been doing my job while exceeding expectations, and my gender as a woman doesn’t affect my capability to perform. Having more women leading in technology will inspire the younger generation of women that they can succeed in any career path they want to pursue.
What do you wish you had known about the tech industry when you first started? What advice would you give to young women who are considering entering this field?
The never-ending learning curves. The competition in the web development industry. You must keep up with all the newest technologies every year to make sure your skills aren’t outdated. Now I know that even with my well-established experience, I would have to keep training, going to workshops, hackathons and so on. For young women considering entering the tech world, my advice would be to go for it! It is not as intimidating as society seems to make it. There are a lot of resources (both online and offline) out there to help you get started and work your way up the ladder.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.