A Chat with Nexascale’s Adora Nwodo on Women Inclusion in Technology and the Journey Behind Nexascale

At TAM, we celebrate trailblazers making significant strides in tech and promoting women inclusivity. In this edition, we feature Adora Nwodo, the visionary behind Nexascale. Adora’s journey is marked by passion, perseverance, and a commitment to creating opportunities for women in tech.

Adora shares the inspiration behind Nexascale and its impactful initiatives, from internships and boot camps to providing essential tools and resources. Nexascale is transforming how aspiring tech professionals gain experience and enter the industry.

She also offers insights on fostering inclusivity in tech companies and the crucial role of educational institutions in encouraging girls to pursue STEM careers. Join us as we explore Adora Nwodo’s inspiring journey and the remarkable impact of Nexascale.

What inspired you to start Nexascale?

The truth is, I’ve been working on Nexascale for as long as I can remember, but not formally. Nexascale is about consolidating the impactful work I’ve done into one initiative, enabling broader reach and greater involvement.

Nexascale provides work experience opportunities through internships, boot camps, and simulated work experiences. During the COVID-19 pandemic, I created a directory of mid-level and entry-level talents to help founders in Nigeria. Over 1,000 people signed up, and I shared this directory with my network, resulting in several hires and significant career advancements.

Witnessing this impact motivated me to formalize these efforts. Previously, I visited schools to encourage girls to pursue STEM careers and raised millions of naira to buy laptops for girls in tech communities. Now, these efforts are part of Nexascale’s programs.

We also launched “The Laptop Sharing Initiative.” While we can’t provide laptops for all 20,000 people who need them, we collaborate with hubs to offer free access to laptops for practice, exams, and learning to code.

Formalizing these initiatives into Nexascale has made it easier to raise funds and apply for grants, allowing us to expand our impact beyond what I could achieve alone. Nexascale was created to amplify our efforts and create a larger, sustainable impact.

What are the strategies or policies you think companies or organizations can implement to successfully foster a more inclusive environment for women in tech?

Honestly, as human beings, we know the right thing to do. Policies are necessary because we are social beings, but fundamentally, we understand what’s right. For instance, recently, there was a case of a young girl being abused by her father. It took public outcry for action to be taken, even though people knew it was wrong all along.

Empathy is crucial. Recognize that everyone has different struggles and create a space where they can flourish. For example, if the leadership team is all male, ensure mid-level management includes women to provide relatable role models and perspectives. This diversity helps address issues that might be overlooked otherwise.

An open-door policy is essential for transparency and continuous learning. Encourage feedback and be patient with each other’s mistakes. This approach fosters an environment where everyone feels valued and heard. Rather than relying solely on policies, emphasize empathy, continuous learning, and humility.

Human beings are dynamic, and problems evolve over time. Instead of creating endless policies, focus on understanding the importance of empathy and learning. This approach would reduce conflicts about representation and ensure that everyone, regardless of gender, works together towards common goals.

In essence, creating a supportive and empathetic environment is more effective than relying solely on policies and frameworks, which can be endlessly debated and adapted. There are new problems we have in 2024 that we did not have in 2007 or 2017, for example. So, should we create policies for every single thing as we evolve? The truth is, if everyone just understood the importance of empathy, continuous learning, and keeping your ego in check, many issues would not arise. A lot of the fights about representation or women not being heard would not happen almost every year. We would not be doing that because men, even if they are not women, would be our allies working towards a shared goal. So, I would be able to talk to them, and they would take that feedback and act on it with empathy. We would not need many of the things we do today. That’s why I don’t want to approach the answer from the concept of creating policies or frameworks, because we’ll just be creating frameworks forever.

What role can educational institutions play in encouraging girls and young women to pursue careers in STEM?

I think the most important thing is representation. There are people who, when I was in secondary school, visited my school and changed my life forever. I’ve seen people like them on TV. Even the simplest things, like a woman wearing red lipstick and high heels going to the office, captured my interest as a child. It’s crucial to tell more stories of successful women.

Recently, I visited a school and asked the girls about their role models. Some mentioned Michelle Obama, Oprah, and Ayra Star. None mentioned women in STEM fields. This discrepancy is concerning. There are many incredible women doing fantastic things, even here in Nigeria. Take Ife Durosinmi in the Herconomy, Tosin Olaseinde with Money Africa, Dr. Iretioluwa Akerele in cybersecurity, Odunayo Eweniyi with Piggyvest, and Damilola Olokesusi, the CEO of Shuttler.

Let’s talk about the OGs, those who have been in the game longer. Lola Masha, for example, was at Google and OLX before joining Babangona. We also have figures like Omobola Johnson.

There are notable women like Dr. Folasade Adefisayo, who has made incredible contributions. Even if they aren’t actively seeking media attention due to their focus on work, we should still tell their stories. Media companies, tech blogs, and other platforms should share their stories with their permission.

We need more of these stories in Nigerian media to show that many women are achieving great things. Young women and older ones too. Dr. Folasade Adefisayo, for instance, isn’t young; she’s in her 50s. She recently served as the Commissioner for Education for Lagos State and is now the CEO of Leading Learning Limited.

It’s essential to highlight their contributions in areas like cybersecurity and technology policy-making. These fields involve a lot of legal aspects intertwined with tech. Sharing these stories inspires young girls by showing them that people like them are succeeding in tech careers.

When talking to parents about introducing their children to technology, I tell them to expose their kids to tech early on. Buy them a tablet, with proper controls to avoid inappropriate content, but don’t force them into programming. If your child expresses an interest in law, support them in that. You can introduce them to tech-related fields within law, like becoming a tech and IP lawyer. There are opportunities in cybersecurity and tech policy-making that blend law and technology. Exposing children to these possibilities allows them to find their path in tech in a way that excites them.

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