Long ago, it was unheard of for women to venture into STEM. Many women who loved science, mathematics or technology were seen as unusual. In some extreme cases, they were called witches and burned. As time went on, although people stopped burning women for being ambitious, parents and people in society still discouraged their girls from studying science. They felt that women were too fragile to handle STEM education.
Right now, the narrative has changed and more women are exploring the field of STEM and navigating it with so much passion and excellence. But despite the changing narrative, there are still a good number of people in Nigeria and Africa who are not used to the idea of women in STEM. As a result, there’s still a huge gender gap in STEM. It’s because of this gender gap that I love to shed my spotlight on women in STEM who are shattering glass ceilings, breaking gender barriers and achieving amazing things.
Today, we will be chatting with an incredible woman in STEM, Temitayo Ayeni, technical business development manager and a trained electrical and electronics engineer. She believes in gender equality and loves writing articles and blog posts in her spare time.
Sit back, grab a cold drink and enjoy this exciting conversation.
1. Can we meet you?
My name is Temitayo Ayeni. I am a technical business development manager and a trained electrical and electronics engineer. I currently work in the Fintech industry where I drive market development by deploying payment services, and support businesses throughout the process of integration to APIs on their mobile applications and other platforms. In my spare time, I write articles and blog posts, I consider this my hobby.
2. What was your university education like?
Well, of course, schooling within the Nigerian educational system is no piece of cake. I attended the Federal University of Technology, Akure, popularly known for its strict academic life and an almost non-existent social life. Being among the few females in engineering, I did my best to ensure the challenge was worth it, and I am glad it turned out well.
3. How has the journey in a STEM career been like? Do you have any regrets?
To be honest, no regrets at all. I have metamorphosed from starting as a core engineer, to working in a financial institution and currently serving as a business executive in the Fintech industry where I apply my technical knowledge to improve businesses. STEM remains a field that is ever-evolving, full of opportunities and chances for growth. The industry continues to make actual visible impact on our daily quality of life, and I think it is a great opportunity to be a part of an industry that is changing lives and making the world a better place.
4. Many people think STEM courses are a no-go area for girls, what do you have to say about this?
I do not think any industry is a no-go area for girls, and most especially the STEM industry. Girls do exceptionally well in STEM courses and eventually blossom in their careers. Actually, the industry needs more women who are driven and poised to support technological advancement. As a young girl, I heard people say things like “don’t study engineering it’s for boys” and like I have always said, this is nonsense talk. The girl child should always be supported to go after her dreams, whatever they may be. So yes, more girls should study STEM courses and not fall for shallow-minded opinions and social prejudices that could limit their life achievements.
5. What has helped you to attain success?
I think having a positive attitude to life is key, and this has helped me a lot. When I have a goal in mind, I go all out for it. I am an optimist, so at the very least, I expect to learn from my experiences. I am also blessed with very supportive family and friends, and very recently, a spouse that is very encouraging. Let’s just say my inner circle is amazing. People who drive me to continue to be the best at what I do.
6. What are some of the challenges you’ve encountered in this chosen path? How did you approach them?
Luckily for me I have never been in a gender-biased working environment, but I will say that the STEM industry itself expects women to continuously prove themselves. I have always known this and I do not think it is fair, however I always try to put my best foot forward, be great at my job and challenge the status quo when necessary. I have also had to deal with social prejudices of what people think women should be doing and their place in the society. My approach has always been the same, ignore side talks, aim for massive success, touch lives along your journey, and ensure to balance work and family life. At the end of the day, that’s all that counts.
7. What one thing did you wish you could have done differently?
Well, I wish I had exploited more opportunities as a young lad. You know, not just rely on academic information but do more personal development as a teenager and an undergraduate. A lot of what drives my career now has almost nothing to do with what I learnt in school, but from experiences and personal development. There’s so much knowledge to be gained especially in STEM and you have to constantly put yourself out there so that you are not left behind.
8. What advice would you give your younger self?
Be yourself, take pride in being different, the world is big enough to accommodate you uniqueness and your dreams. Take chances and do that thing, make that move. Without mistakes and failures you would never learn and all you would have at the end of the day is a bucket full of “what ifs?’
9. How can you encourage young girls to study STEM courses?
I would just say, young girls should go for it. Surround yourself with people who understand your dreams and support it 100%. The STEM industry needs you, you have very high chances of being a huge success if you continue to develop yourself, and the opportunities are limitless. If I can do it, you can do it too.
It has been great time with Temitayo examining life, schooling in Nigeria, challenges as a woman in STEM, and so on. A key takeaway from this conversation is: there’s really nothing to lose. Girls and women can be anything and should go for STEM if they want to.
To connect with Temitayo, reach out to her on any of the following platforms:
Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/tyayeni/
Linkedin – https://www.linkedin.com/in/temitayo-ayeni/
Twitter – https://twitter.com/TyAyeni