Women in science urged to assume leadership roles

There is need to discern credibility as one of the prevalent factors obstructing women from assuming leadership roles.

This was highlighted by the Minister of ICT and Innovation Paula Ingabire, during a tech-networking event themed ‘Lifting up the next generation of women leaders’ that was held yesterday.

The event comprised of high-level women in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) from leading companies from San Francisco, Bay Area and Silicon Valley including Adobe, Amazon, LinkedIn, Google, Twitter among others.

Their discussions offered insights into the challenges faced by women who aspire to join leadership positions stating lack of mentors, gender stereotypes, and demands of family life as some of the challenges that are holding women back.

The minister emphasised the need for women to constantly upskill themselves and ensure that they are ahead of the curve.

“Let’s constantly challenge each other wherever we are in the workforce and once we do that, we will understand the gaps that we need to fix. As we think about empowering and lifting up other women, let’s make sure that in ten years when they are looking for high skilled people, women are ranking highest,” she said.

She advised stakeholders to make ample use of numerous initiatives promoting sciences to pull more women not only in the science field but to also aim high for powerful positions.

“There are so many programs such as Girls in STEM, We Code but how are we cashing on this collective energy as women in stem to support and expand the impact that we can create, this is where we should continue to challenge ourselves.”

One of the panellists, Mitwa Kaemba Ng’ambi the CEO of MTN Rwanda shared that women need to grasp certain aspects if they are to undertake and uphold leadership roles.

“It is important to understand that there is no success without failure. You also have to know who you are and where you are going. But most importantly, know your stuff, I never appoint or promote based on gender. I do it based on merit, one has to put in the work,” she said.

In her remarks on leadership, Samantha Raniere a leadership coach and mentor at TechWomen said that women need to seek feedback for improvement.

She noted that often women close themselves from feedback yet the best and strongest leaders in this world constantly seek feedback to get better for they understand that there is always another theory or perspective to learn.

Raniere also mentioned the need to be intentional in one’s career.

“So many of us end up in roles or positions either by happenstance or because we were told us to. I urge you to be intentional, think about what you want in your life and make it happen. And also, be willing to speak up and let your needs be known, men do this all the time,” she said.

“Trust that you have the confidence to figure it out and know that you have the network for support. Have a diverse team for support if you try to do everything you end up being great at nothing. Let’s all support each other, lift each other and provide each other with opportunities,” she added.

The networking event gathered more than 100 women working in STEM across different institutions.

Sponsored by the US department of state, TechWomen program empowers, connects and supports leaders in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics through mentorship and exchange programs.

The program strengthens participants’ professional capacity, increases mutual understanding between key networks of professionals and expands girls’ interest in STEM careers by exposing them to female role models.

dmbabazi@newtimesrwanda.com

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