Babs Fafunwa Millennium Senior Grammar School is a public school in Lagos state Nigeria. Girl Child Art Foundation (GCAF) chose to have her a workshop with a vulnerable girl attending public schools around her community. While GCAF would have loved to accommodate every girl in the school with a population of over 3000 students, GCAF was able to train 60 girls as approved by the school for the workshop themed; Digital Experience and opportunities for girls in Nigeria: Co-creation, design and product testing” which was presented by Ms. Folake J. Our interest in this topic was inspired to create awareness on digital opportunities the girl child can embrace, hence, enable girl match up the percentage of boys who take up roles in digital possibilities.
At 11:00 am, the girls took their seats in the room we used for this project. The program coordinator briefly announced GCAF programs and encouraged more girls to join, as our services and classes are free. We had 59 students registered on the attendance sheet, while 50 completed the pre-test questionnaire. We had two teachers present representing the school, two GCAF staff, and one guest speaker.
Ms. Folake J started her teaching by asking the girls if they had heard about digital opportunities and some software and applications (Apps) they know. A few girls responded by listing canvas, pixel, TikTok, Facebook, and WhatsApp. Folake gave a brief overview of the gender split in the tech and digital space, citing that it was a male-dominated industry. She compared the ratio of boys who are more knowledgeable about digital tools &opportunities to girls who have limited knowledge, making an example of just two girls out of 59 who were aware of & use some graphic design apps. She gave examples of digital tech opportunities like social media management, marketing, public relations, script writing, etc. She classified them as hard skills that can be learned and used to earn while adding that women have some soft skills that make them better at handling some of these digital roles. She reiterated that these soft skills are connected to the very nature of women, who are more emotionally intelligent than men in most cases as they tend to think further and more ‘big picture’. She noted that as a woman in tech, one need not struggle for relevance with the male gender and instead can shine in areas that come naturally to them, areas that accentuate their soft skills of proper understanding, people analysis, leadership, excellent communication, emotional maturity, and more.
While concluding her presentation, Folake listed seven tips to help all girls excel and thrive in a male-dominated digital future.
- Be confident: She noted that every girl should be secure, bold, and courageous.
- Do not try to please everyone, or people will take advantage of you.
- Know your worth. Do not allow people’s definition of you to outshine your definition of yourself.
- Learn to handle conflict. Women are more emotionally intelligent; hence they should always try to show empathy in conflict situations to resolve disputes amicably and not by force.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for a price worth your time. Also, research and know the average costs before rushing to negotiate a price or salary.
- Find a mentor in your career field. It doesn’t have to be someone you see every day. These mentors can be women we admire from afar, and we can use their experiences to shape ours. The most important part is to follow their path.
- She ended the tips by finding people or networks supporting you as a woman/ girl. An example Folake gave was the support the Girl Child Art Foundation gives to young girls to mold them into creative and innovative women of tomorrow.
Here are some of the conversations between the girls and the facilitator(Folake)
Juliana asked the following questions. What if you can’t get a mentor in your area?
Ans: You do not have to know your mentor personally; you can read up about different female mentors and decide who you would like to be a mentee too. The best part about having mentorship from afar is that you can use their experiences to chart your path. She added that most mentors might need more time to mentor young girls, so it is best to research the mentor.
What career paths did they take? What decisions could have influenced the roles they play now? What female-centric networks do they belong to?
Another Juliana asked the following questions: How do you know your worth and not make it obvious simultaneously?
How do you differentiate between a tormentor and a mentor?
Ans: You know your worth by defining yourself and being confident. So you only let people define you once you have set out a definition for yourself.
You can only know a tormentor if you work with the person, which is another reason to pick a mentor from a distance sometimes. Also, as we evolve, we outgrow the mentors we have selected. Once this happens, dropping that mentor and picking another one is okay.
- The third person: How do we handle conflict between classmates, students, and teachers in a school setting?
- How do you know your worth?
Ans: The first step is to show empathy. Put yourself in people’s shoes before passing judgment because people may act out for reasons we may not be aware of. The first step is always to seek to resolve the dispute amicably, and when that doesn’t work out, it can be escalated to a higher authority. Women/girls should not fight or get violent because things don’t go our way.
To know your worth, you must define yourself and what you want out of life. You can ask people around you what the cost for specific projects is. For example, if you design something on Canva, how much would a client pay for it? The skills can set you in the right direction to balance the expected with what you feel is suitable for your efforts on the job.
We had three girls present their poems.
A GIRL by Oluwayemi Janet Aderonke
She’s the air that I breathe
She’s the beat in my heart
She’s the tears in my eyes
When we’re apart
She’s the tingling I feel
With all she achieves
I am the one who gives hope
In what she believes
She’s a part of my body
Out now, she is all grown
As she waves me goodbye
To find a life of her own
My beautiful girl
You’ve grown up so fine
You‘ve made me so proud
To know that you are mine.
According to a teacher (Mrs. Ayeni) at the school who gave feedback on the workshop,
“The facilitator was fantastic; I give it to her. She is intelligent, witty, loaded, well informed; I don’t know which other adjective to qualify her; she delivered. She was not struggling. If she had been given more time, she would have spent three hours; you will not know you have spent three hours. The children gained a lot. She is well-informed on the topic. I must confess. It was a worthwhile program. Eeh!, could you appreciate the trainer? We always thank her for being there; the children were happy, felt fulfilled, and saw themselves in places. We love her, and the children love her. They love her so much. We will want her to come again and again and again and again. We enjoyed the program and the children; they learned from another perspective.
After the poetry presentation, four girls presented some songs, then gave the girls some refreshments and took some pictures. We had group photos with the teachers and the speaker outside the classroom.
We closed the program at 12:30 pm.
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