Amazons 5 – Feyisayo Famakinde

If you lived in the world a century ago, women in STEM would have been a laughable idea. In many cases, it may have been a taboo. As time went on, people decided that maybe it wasn’t such a bad idea to let women dabble into STEM. There was a twist to this, however. Some people started seeing women in STEM as women who wanted to be men. They saw them as women who weren’t beautiful enough to marry or bear children. So, people resented them and discouraged those they loved from venturing into STEM.

Luckily, we don’t live in that world anymore. Although many people are still not used to the idea of women in STEM, women in STEM is one narrative that has come to stay. We have seen that women can take up STEM roles and execute them perfectly. It doesn’t make them men or affect any other areas of their lives. Despite this, there is still a huge gender gap in STEM. Some people are refusing to let go of those archaic beliefs maybe because they don’t know any better or they are not exposed. So, I have made it my mission to shine the light on women who are conquering the STEM world flawlessly.

In this piece, we will be meeting with Feyisayo Famakinde, a young DevOps engineer who transitioned from the English language to tech. Her story is a thrilling adventure one that will inspire you and spur you on to stop procrastinating and kick start your career in tech.

Sit back, grab a glass of juice and enjoy this fascinating conversation.

1. Can we meet you?
Hi everyone, I am Feyisayo Famakinde, a 26 years old budding DevOps Engineer based in Lagos. I like to say budding because I just started this career and I feel I still have so much to learn.

2. What was your university education like?

Oh. I studied English Language at the prestigious (If you like to disagree) Obafemi Awolowo University Ile Ife, Osun state. My university education was a journey I used that expression because of how everything turned out, I was a little unserious or maybe distracted/unfocused so my first two years were not that great academically or socially because really, I wasn’t doing anything, I just didn’t study. Now that I think about it, it was probably a problem with motivation because I didn’t choose English language but picked law instead but as Nigeria would have it, I got in for English and just free-rolled it. I got serious in my 3rd year because I was afraid of failure – I was told that was the toughest year so in the bid to not carry over a course I buckled up – but really when I got into our courses, I actually liked the knowledge being passed through.

3. How has the journey in a STEM career been like?

From my previous story you would know by now that I didn’t study a STEM course in the university so you are probably wondering how I got into this, it was a little bit of curiosity and finding better career prospects I saw an ad for the 2020 Google/ALC/Andela Cloud Engineer Scholarship and applied then got into the program, we were told to study with some Pluralsight courses and I got so confused because of the terminology used so I decided to do a brush-up course to understand better and I believe my brush up course helped because I went on to win a voucher for the google associate cloud engineer exam which I wrote and passed then there the journey started.
Do I have any regrets? Right now? none at all.. The stability and the great compensation for what I do have been fulfilling.

4. Many people think STEM courses are a no-go area for girls, what do you have to say about this?

I think that’s a stereotype that is invalid maybe it would have been relevant in the days when women were not expected to be independent or problem-solving. STEM is open to anyone. It is basically learning and anybody can learn once you are focused and interested in the subject or topic.

5. What has helped you to attain success?

Resilience. Hitting a wall and never backing down, sometimes it gets frustrating but then the challenge becomes a high that gets you fulfilled every time.

6. What are some of the challenges you have encountered in this chosen path? How did you approach them?

One challenge is the never-ending flow of knowledge oh there are many things to learn you have to keep learning and because DevOps is vested with various tools you have to learn them. A great way I have approached this through is something I picked from the Reddit DevOps community – you need community people – is to know the basics of what you do permit me to get technical a bit, in DevOps, you are always going to need automation, networking and containerization knowledge be good at those and when you come across tools you can use them until you leave them.

7. What one thing did you wish you could have done differently?
I wish I got into this Career early. I don’t usually spend time regretting but I wish I got into this during my service year because I talked about getting into tech a lot but it took me a solid year before deciding on what to do exactly.

8. What advice would you give your younger self?

The future will take care of itself just learn Self-love and believe that you can always handle whatever the future brings.

9. How can you encourage young girls to study STEM courses?

Well, I am in it, I once believed I couldn’t do anything technical, I just felt that was how I was created but look at me doing things today. If you want to get into STEM, believe you can excel in it. There is absolutely nothing that is insurmountable in this path. It is extremely rewarding both intrinsically and financially, there is a great network of support also so I can assure you that you are never alone.

It has been interesting chatting with Feyisayo about transitioning to tech, her experience so far, challenges as a woman in STEM, and what she thinks about other women getting into Stem. I am sure you have learned a lot. A line I wish you would never forget from this interview is: If you want to get into STEM, believe you can excel in it. There is absolutely nothing that is insurmountable in this path. So, if you want to join women like Feyisayo there Is no better time than now. There are resources available and a large network you can leverage. You will never be alone.

To connect with Feyisayo, reach out to her on any of the following platforms:

Instagram – www.instagram.com/thefeyifamakinde
LinkedIn- www.linkedin.com/in/feyisayofamakinde
Twitter – www.twitter.com/mselle_tonya
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/famakinde.anthonia

International Day of Women and Girls in Science 2021 – Seyi Adelusi

Today, the 11th of February is Women in Science Day. Therefore, I would like to shine a spotlight on Seyi Adelusi who is a DevOps Engineer who works in a Fintech Company in Nigeria. We shall read on how the journey has been and the challenges especially as a woman.

Storytelling is a powerful tool, and I believe that by reading her story, more young girls and women will embrace STEM and the stereotypical views associated with young girls showing interest. We hope that more parents, guardians and caregivers will encourage their girls who are interested in this field.

  1. Can we meet you?

My name is Oluwaseyi Ifedola Adelusi. A graduate of Electrical and Electronics Engineering from the Federal University of Technology, Akure, Ondo State, Nigeria. I work as a DevOps Engineer in a Fintech company in Nigeria. I love writing, travelling and reading books.

2) What was your university education like?

My University education was very interesting. In a class of over 120 students, we were less than 10 girls. Our lecture halls had limited capacities, so I always needed to hustle through the crowd in order to get a comfortable seat close to the front of the hall. As a girl, this was a difficult feat to undertake. It was a journey that has shaped me into being the woman that I am today: a woman who is willing to compete to get to the top in the corporate world. I am so excited about my future and grateful for my educational journey.

3) How has the journey in a STEM Career been like?

I was inspired to pursue a career in STEM when I during my physics and mathematics classes in high school. The ability to understand and define the world both conceptually and quantitatively attracted me to STEM. I wanted to apply mathematical tools to solving problems, and I was drawn to the inherent creativity involved in engineering. I ended up studying engineering at the university as a result.

My career so far has been rewarding. I started as Operations Engineer and Database Administrator in one of the leading banks in Nigeria. After roughly 3 years with the bank, I recently pivoted to the fintech world where I currently serve as the DevOps and Integration lead of a fast-growing payments company.

4) Do you have any regrets?

I would say I can’t think of any regrets at the moment. STEM has become our everyday life. I’m glad I chose this path, and I will choose it over and over again.

5) Many people think STEM courses are a no-go area for girls, what do you have to say about this?

As already expressed above, I have been working in STEM, or ‘tech’ as it is commonly called, for over 3 years now. In that time, I have demonstrated competence in every team I have been part of. This self-assertion of my competence is validated by the fact that I have grown to become a team lead within these 3 years.

What I mean to communicate here is that girls can be successful in STEM career paths and courses. As a matter of fact, I believe there is a need for more women within the STEM ecosystem in order to provide diverse perspectives and contributions.

6) What has helped you to attain success in this field?

Focus, diligence and persistence. In a male-dominated career like mine, a woman has to be focused and persistent. Eventually, the biases and stereotypes will give way when people come to recognise your capabilities as a woman.

7) What are some of the challenges you have encountered in this chosen path? How did you approach them?

As a young lady in STEM, which is a male-dominated area, one often encounters toxic masculinity. Also, men in the field get more visibility, at times for less work. As a result, I have had to work extra hard to attain the same visibility as some of my men colleagues. These are major challenges many other women I know and I face in STEM.

My approach toward these challenges has been to ignore the noise and focus on activities that move the needle. What I mean here is that as long as you focus on making an impact, eventually, people will come to terms with your worth as a woman in STEM.

8) What one thing did you wish you could have done differently?

I could have started earlier. There are decisions I hesitated on taking due to fear and, maybe, lack of access to the right mentorship. This is why I am committed to giving back by providing mentorship to early career girls in STEM that I come across. A lot of mistakes can be avoided through counsels from experienced mentors.

9) What advice would you give your younger self?

To my younger self: Know that you are in charge of your career; question everything; choose the right mentors; create time for yourself; learn to prioritise the right activities and people; follow your own instincts; move fast.

10) How can you encourage young girls to study STEM courses?

My own story is testament to the fact that girls can make high-impact contributions in STEM careers. I want to let every girl out there know that if they believe in themselves, they can be successful in anything they lay their hands upon, including STEM careers. It starts with self-belief.

Another necessary skill I encourage in girls is curiosity. Curiosity helps you form unique questions that will eventually unravel many answers to you. If you are curious enough, and you follow through on your questions by working on finding answers to them, you have a good chance at being successful in STEM.

Nobody has a path that is already made for him/her; we will all face unique challenges and barriers. Girls must be willing to take risks, persevere, and work hard.

11) What do you think are the roles of parents and science teachers in encouraging girls in STEM?

I think every parent should encourage their girl child to study any of the STEM-related courses. By creating an environment in their homes where boy and girl children are afforded equal opportunities, parents can raise girls who can compete out there without whomever they come in contact with.

I am sure you must have been inspired by this interview. I would like to emphasize on something she noted which was curiosity. Curiosity births innovations. I am looking forward to more women lauching more groundbreaking innovations.

Kindly find links to her social media platforms in order to connect with her.

Blog – http://seyiadelusi.wordpress.com

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/adelusi.o.ifedolapo
Linkedin – https://www.linkedin.com/in/oluwaseyi-i-adelusi-59442379/
Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/seyi_adelusi/

STEM (SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY, ENGINEERING AND MATHEMATICS) IS NOT MEANT FOR GIRLS.

“Please sir, I would like to create a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) awareness program for girls. It is an initiative to introduce girls from the junior secondary school to the wonders and possibilities of science, math, technology and engineering …,” the principal read aloud, his eyes widening. Then he glanced up from his letter, pulled off his thin glasses, placed it on the table as he stared at the younger man standing in front of him. 

 

“That is my problem with you corpers. You come here thinking you can turn everyone’s head with white people’s nonsense then you go home disappointed when nothing really changed. This is Africa. This is Nigeria. This is our village. Here, girls don’t like technology. Name three Nigerian female inventors you know. You probably can’t but I’m sure you know the girls on music videos or you know how much girls love cooking competitions. Okay, I’m even going far. In our school here, haven’t you see how many girls are in our science class? Just twelve. Twelve out of hundred people. One of them thinking of going back to Arts!” 

 

The young man made to speak but the principal waved him off. 

 

“I don’t approve it!” he said.

 

“Sir please at least finish the letter or hear me out. I want this start from the junior secondary school and introduce them to it. From there, they would get interested and join.”

 

The principal shook his head vigorously and rubbed his eyes.

“These girls don’t like science. You should have seen it yourself. In fact, they’d rather pull their skirts up and try to get your attention. I’m sure they have started trying to see who visits you first! It gives me shame to admit it but it’s true.” He winced as he spoke as though it hurt him to think about how the girls in his school were always up to no good. It was not as though the boys were any better morally but at least they put in more effort in their studies than many of the girls did. 

 

“Yes, but that’s exactly why they need this sir!” the young man cried, desperately pleading the case for betterment of the girls. “They need to know that they can think too just like boys do. They need to know that they can and should do things because they’re interested in them not because they think they can’t do anything else! At least let me try sir, please, if no one joins or appreciates it by the end of next week, I would stop. Please approve this sir. You said I should make a difference. That’s exactly what I’m trying to do with my service year, please”

 

“I know I said make a difference. I didn’t say try to scatter any one’s head! Girls are more inclined to doing things that won’t stress them. That’s why lots of them study mass communication or English language and end up baking cakes and selling to friends/family. You can’t find a girl from here studying a course that would need her to climb a building to check it it’s strong enough. This is the same reason why girls don’t become carpenters or mechanics.” 

The principal looked down at the letter shaking his head. 

 

The young man thought a little bit and said:

“Sir, you’ve raised very valid points. I believe, just like you do, that sometimes our capabilities help us decide what we would go for and what we would not. Those capabilities like muscular strength are sometimes gender related and so you’ll see females running away from a particular profession while men run towards it.”

 

The principal’s darted quickly upwards and his lips parted in surprise. 

 

“But sir, I don’t think we should keep them from opportunities just because we think they wouldn’t be interested. I think we should present it to them first, show them the relevance and importance. Plus you know girls are more than boys in this school and in the country. Wouldn’t you want them to start making us proud? They’re future mothers. They would inspire the next generation to do things that will change our world.” 

 

The principal smiled. This young man reminded him of his younger self – so full of dreams and hope. He just hoped the boy would not disappointed as he had been years before now. Reluctantly, he approved the proposal and granted him permission to carry out the awareness. 

 

“It’s better to try than to say it would fail,” the principal had said, “I would not be an enemy to something that could turn out to be very good for our girls. Go for it Daniel! Thank you for trying to make a difference in these children’s lives.” 

 

******

 

There are ongoing debates about whether it is important to carry out awareness or sensitization programs or organize free workshops and seminars in order to inspire girls to love or be interested in STEM. Some people think that girls would be girls and would always prefer doing jobs or studying things that would not be too tasking for them. But if this is the reason for not trying to acquaint them with the whole idea then it’s not good enough. Let them be made aware of that and then they can choose to follow it or not. Some people also bring up this argument when a girl wants to study something they think a girl shouldn’t be interested in. They tell her to go for more girly or easier and less stressful alternatives. It shouldn’t be so. If she’s interested in it and able to handle it, let her do it. This is what true equality is all about – not restricting or boxing people because of their gender or because you think they should be a certain way.