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Women Passion Program: My Take so far - Mary Musimire

On 10th June, 2014, 30 ladies started their Journey through the Women Passion Program (WOPA), an experiential based learning program, supported by Google for Entrepreneurs under the #40Forward initiative, that seeks to train women in programming and entrepreneurship skills.

Mary Musimire, a Software Engineering student at Makerere University and one of the participants, shares her learnings in her Article, “Women Passion Program: My Take so far.”

WOPA  is  developed  in  partnership  with  Google  for Entrepreneurs  under  the  #40Forward  initiative,  a  challenge  to  start-up  and  entrepreneur  organizations  to  create  innovative programs to increase participation of women by 25% in their communities, We_Tech Global under the Seed fund for Africa initiative that seeks to increase the number of women and girls in Computer science and Women Of Uganda Network (WOUGNET).

Walking home from one of my lectures one day, a question came up in my mind: How far can mankind go when it comes to technology, what is the limit?

There is no limit when it comes to technology; just when we think we’ve arrived a new idea is hatched; advancement in robotics is made, a new language or OS developed. The things we can do with tech only go as far as our imagination allows. And that is why it is such a great season for women in tech to analyze and identify gaps to close with the help of technology.

This time in history the world over; there is eagerness to induct, involve and recognize the women that have contributed to technology advancement in one way or another. This has resulted into many organizations to start a movement to address the challenge of the gender gap in technology; for example the #40FORWARD challenge by Google; one of the inspirations behind the WOPA program that I am privileged to be a part of.

Challenge Today:

One of the key challenges today is that every year we have several female grandaunts in technology without realistic practical application of their knowledge; having limited contribution to community development to improve their wellbeing and lifestyle.

Before the WOPA program, I was just another female in the field of software engineering with a passion for tech but with limited ideas how to harness my passion and knowledge into something tangible.  WOPA has made me realize that; there is only so much you can learn from a lecture room. I have acquired a sense of direction and guidance on how to navigate into the world of tech. I have started the journey to self discovery, the right approach to problem solving, and translating business concepts into tech related solutions that work.

Being a part of WOPA has given me the privilege of learning more beyond basic principals from my software engineering class lectures.

I like to keep an ideas journal where I can just note down any idea I think of. One of my old ideas was to create an online marketing system software that would connect local traders of all sorts to the market demanding for their services and goods to increase income from domestic and international trade. The much delayed move to e-shopping in Uganda. This would definitely relieve many of the stress and movement costs to find the quality goods and services on fair prices.

I thought it was a brilliant idea until I learned about human centered design and what it really takes to design specific solutions that will work for your targeted customer. My idea is out of the bin now and under refinement using the concepts I’ve learned. I am only able to do things better today because I am receiving the right training and mentorship.

It is therefore crucial that we have more women involved in hands on programs like this, more women going out of their way to look for platforms or kick start initiatives where they can get opportunity for practical application of technology skills to address challenges and meet the demands of industrial revolution and local communities to improve their wellbeing.

I would like to encourage all the female technologists out there to embrace programs like WOPA that offer opportunities to get engage in problem solving and application of their skill set. Tech savvy female engineers have so much to give back to our country and therefore need to receive the right kind of mentorship and training along the way but the first step has to be taken by us.

Mary Musimire is an under graduate in her second year at Makerere University majoring in a Bachelors of science in Software Engineering. She is the first overall award winner of the Dstv Eutelsat Star Technology Award in the year 2011; Part of the Winning team of the ROBOTICs Challenge 2011 by ilabs at Makerere College of Engineering, active participant and leader in the various Information Communication Technology Initiatives during her time as a student at Gayaza High School.

Apply now to the Women Passion program next intake.

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