Yvonne Onyiye is a multi-talented young woman who wants to expose other girls to the opportunities she has had and help them acquire skills that will keep them relevant through time. An illustrator, creative writer, and tech enthusiast. She tells us about her work with Gitgirl and much more.
Can you tell our readers a little about yourself and the work you do?
I currently lead the Gitgirl team to create awesome tech programs for women. Before I got into tech, I worked in advertising and digital marketing and did a lot of artwork. My life before tech was exciting but tech gave it a major face lift. I became more and more confident of my abilities and my career especially knowing that I had just acquired skills that could keep me relevant in the job market for a really long time. Right now, Gitgirl is revolutionizing the way African women acquire tech skills. By simply enabling them to help and support each other through their journeys, they’re fueled up for success in their respective tech careers.
What’s your daily routine like?
I wake up as early as 5:30am on days I need to be at the office. I get to the office at about 7:20am and I take the rest of the day as it comes. I’m mostly working with the team to tick off tasks that help us build our women empowering empire. We’re always supporting our students daily and creating more programs and offline activities that advance our cause.
What inspired you to start gitgirl and what has been the level of impact so far?
Gitgirl happened because I realized that women weren’t talking about their challenges getting into tech with anyone and the challenges we face are many. I used my own experience and data collected from over 200 women to decide what sort of programs should exist to enable more women thrive in tech. We’ve just launched our coding program with two main courses: Data Analytics and Front-end development. We have two enrollments with about 60 students in general.
Did the environment you grew up in have any influence on the work you do the things you are passionate about?
A lot of it actually. I grew up in a small city in eastern Nigeria. The only exposure I really got was from reading magazines and books and watching foreign channels on TV. Eventually, access to the internet made access to information easier. I know what it’s like to not have access to what can change your life or to not be able to afford it. I relived a bulk of this reality again when I started learning data analytics. Accessibility and affordability are some of the challenges posing continuous learning for Africans.
Asides contributing towards the goal of equal opportunities for men and women, is there any other reason you are more particular about females?
Economic advancement is another important reason for me. Half of the working population of the state cannot be the only group contributing to major economic activities. It’s an all hands on deck situation. Everyone has something to give, no matter how small. If we’re going to survive as a country in this digital revolution, we need to equip our citizens with the skills required.
Can you tell us some of the peculiar challenges you face because of your gender, in your field.
Mostly the mindset challenge and social conditioning. A lot of African women have been conditioned to think that we don’t really need to put in as much effort as the man should. Sometimes, it’s the opposite, there are women who believe they can’t get from point A to B without working twice as hard as men. The both are quite disturbing because they don’t speak good of the system and do not have balance. It’s important to be in a system where a level playing ground exists.
Many used to know you as a creative writer, how was the transition to design/tech? Do you still write?
I’m still a creative writer and I still express my art through my blog and some contributions to other editorials and publications.
What is the place of mentorship in your work?
I take my mentors seriously and I also make sure that anyone enrolled in our programs has access to mentors that can help them through their journey as well.
What is your most important personal value?
My most important personal value is Growth. I’m all for anything that helps me grow.
What is the one thing you hold to be true?
Once you’re genuine and authentic about a problem you’re looking to solve, you’ll always find help and support. It may take a while to find the right ears that’ll listen but your genuineness and authenticity will definitely make a way for you.
What message do you have for girls out there who are trying to make it through life?
Life will give you what you give it. The universe gives in what we put in. Put out positivity and optimism, handwork and passion, faith and hope, love and truth. Don’t live under a rock, have a high standard for your knowledge base, seek information and stay informed. Make genuine friendships and connections, stay courageous and don’t be afraid to take risks.