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#GirlsInICT: Go for it, don’t wait for optimal conditions - software engineer Lynn Mugambi

Achieving Woman
 Lynn Mugambi, a software engineer working with a US-based firm

Life as a software engineer is nothing but easy-peasy for Lynn Mugambi. Working with Andela, a software development company connecting developers around the world, she got a feel of working remotely way before the pandemic forced the world to work from living rooms and home offices.

For two and a half years, Mugambi has had a unique experience working abroad from the comfort of her home in Nairobi. Working for a US-based e-commerce firm remotely, she has been able to put food on her table and support her family all while working from home.

But how does she do it?

Every morning, she starts her work by going through her calendar to note and remind herself of the tasks she will be attending to that day. Next, she logs in to a communication platform where she meets and interacts virtually with her colleagues as they touch base on the day’s work.

She then heads to meetings, all virtual, with the various departments she will be working with on given projects before settling down to start work developing and testing systems.

Mugambi’s simple and relatable work life portrays just how accessible a profession in ICT can be despite all the talk about how demanding and complicated working as an ICT professional can be.

While ICT is indeed a broad field, careers in the industry are fulfilling and women all over the world are showing it is possible to build successful careers in ICT.

Like most professions under STEM, ICT is male dominated, and the challenge of working in a male-dominated field as woman is that you have deal with the feeling of standing out whenever you enter a room full of men as one of a few or even the only female colleague.

“There are few women in ICT and, most of the time, I’m met with expressions of shock whenever I enter a room to work with a team of men. Some of them are also reluctant to work with me because I am a woman,” Mugambi shared when Eve reached out to her.

Over time, she has accepted herself as the different one and, every day, she works hard to assert herself and remain relevant by showing her worth and capabilities, all while keeping her crown as the unicorn in the team – the different one, as she calls it.

For Mugambi, it is the impact of tech on people’s lives that keeps her going. “I enjoy the power that technology has, the ability to change lives. Technology has the ability to solve problems and raise the living standards in the community,” she says.

But it was not always ICT that she dreamt of. Growing up, she wanted to be a doctor and her dream to practice medicine never really changed until her last year in high school.

“When I joined Precious Blood in Form One, there was this course called Computer Studies. Something about computers thrilled me and I loved the subject. However, I saw it as a booster, just one of the subjects I was good at and would boost my overall grade,” she narrates. “All this while, my dream was still to be a doctor.

“When I was in form four, AkiraChix [an organisation that is passionate about creating a community that supports and inspires women in the tech space] visited our school to give as a talk about software engineering and tips on how we, as girls, would thrive in the field of ICT. I was sold. I realised that software engineering was what I wanted to do, what I was meant to do.”

While her dream was now clear for her, a profession in ICT, she had to convince her parents that ditching medicine for ICT was a good choice.

Like most parents, they were reluctant to embrace her new ‘calling’ as they could not readily understand how she would build a career in ICT considering only a handful girls were in the industry.

Relentless and determined to build a name for herself in ICT, she slowly won her parents over and they supported her through her trainings as an ICT professional.

It is this very experience that she would like to share with other girls out there doubting themselves and not sure whether they should take up career paths in ICT:

“Go for it, don’t wait to join college or wait for optimal conditions. You can train online and just start. We [referring to fellow women in ICT] are also here to guide and help you, and show you how it’s done.”

Mugambi, a certified computer networking associate, has a degree in Computer Software Engineering from the Asia Pacific university of Technology and Innovation in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

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