Akirachix – A “Support Group” Based In Kenya, For The Female Geek To Reach Her Full Potential
Across all cultures and races throughout the world, there have been defined roles for the different genders. Generally you will find men expected to do “macho” stuff, while women are expected to do feminine stuff. For instance, in the African traditional setup, the socio-economic dynamics dictated that men go hunting and protect their tribe from attacks from neighboring tribes. The women on the other hand were expected to stay at home, bear and care for the children, do house chores and ensure the man is very comfortable when he gets back home.
In the current age and time the socio-economic dynamics have changed, there is no need for hunting (in some instances it’s illegal) the “womanly” chores can be done by a hired nanny; hence people have to change with the change of times. The current socio-economic dynamics revolves around education, technology and professional career. It would appear that even in this there are expected roles as far as gender is concerned. The society expects that when it comes to choosing a career or education, the men should feature on everything to do with STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) while the women should stick to what is feminine and that is every other career and education that doesn’t have anything to do with STEM.
This stereotype is even more potent in Africa, where compared to the developing nations; the culture is still more conservative and gender prejudice is still quite common. This situation makes it especially difficult for the girl child who happens to have an interest in STEM related fields. The society will view her as a rebel, misfit or in extreme cases a freak. If not, chances are they are not going to find as many incentives or encouragement to pursue a STEM-based passion, as their male counterparts would.
In Kenya, one association working with the theme of sisterhood strives at changing this situation. Dubbed Akirachix; Akira is a name that comes from a Japanese word meaning “energy” and “intelligence”, the association comprise of ladies who have an interest in ICT and STEM related fields. They also seek to inspire more women into joining STEM related career and education. They achieve this through training, mentoring and networking with the greater community in a bid to nurture more ladies with an interest in technology that if left alone might succumb to the social stereotype and fail to reach its full potential.
Innov8tiv Magazine will in the few coming weeks feature some of the young female innovators who achieved their highest potential with demonstrated inventions, who owe it all to the mentorship, encouragement and support they obtained from the Akirachix association. Indeed this association of girls has set themselves on a very noble cause; to balance the gender imbalance that is plagues technology industry worldwide.