The only way to do great work is to love what you do. —Steve Jobs
This is Stella’s favorite quote. Stella Rotich is a 2015 Akili Dada Fellow, a tech savvy young woman born and brought up in Bomet County, which is in the Rift Valley Region of Kenya. Stella has a great passion and love for technology. She has a particular fascination with the potential and power of technology to solve community challenges. She views it not only as a means of making life more convenient and enjoyable, but also as a tool that can be leveraged to solve social issues. It’s therefore no wonder that when you dig a little deeper you find that among her accomplishments – Stella is the Global Tech Women Leader representing Kenya in the global network of women in technology.
“I love computers to bits. It all started in high school when I encountered the Strengthening of Mathematics and Science in Secondary Education (SMASSE) program that was introduced in our school. I found myself spending a lot of my time in the computer lab. I was intrigued by all the amazing work that computers could do. I remember my excitement with the fact that I could research and access a whole new world of information. This made me want to learn more. Technology has really transformed my life and has made me the person that I am today.” – Stella
Stella is the Founder of SheTech, a social change initiative that seeks to empower women to take up take up Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) courses and works to increase the visibility of women pursuing careers along these lines. The program teaches basic computer education, coding, and serves as an online resource, connecting girls and young women to opportunities through an online portal.
“I have always loved helping people and particularly women and girls to better their lives, and I have seen the ways in which technology can make that possible.” Says Stella
Tech impacts all sectors of the economy, and so by teaching girls and young women how to use technology, they have increased ability to gain employment and financial stability, therefore breaking a cycle of poverty. Since becoming an Akili Dada Fellow at the beginning of 2015, Stella has been able to make great progress towards achieving the mission and vision of SheTech.
“The fellowship has been a life changing experience, from the trainings, resources, networking and mentoring I have received, we have been able to make strides as an organization to have an impact on peoples’ lives. We have had greater capacity to visit schools, mentor and talk to girls – opening them up to a world of possibilities in STEM. We are able to show them the diverse career options available. In some instances students were unaware of career choices such as Software Engineering, Data Management, Programming, and Biomedical Engineering.”
There is need to create a conducive and encouraging environment for more women to get into STEM. Through SheTech Stella is playing a much needed role of negating stereotypes about girls and women, by showing the young girls examples of women that have been able to excel in STEM subjects and that have gone ahead to pursue successful careers in STEM. Through her efforts Stella is doing her bit to close the gender gap in STEM. “At Chepnet, which is a rural village, digital literacy among women is particularly low . Most of the schools don’t have the best infrastructure or resources however through SheTech we are able to promote the usability of tech. Where computers are not available we encourage use of low cost smart phones.”
Mentorship is a key aspect of the SheTech. It’s through mentorship that the initiative is able to tap into the great talent and potential of girls and young women in the rural communities. SheTech pays special attention to this target group ensuring that they are not left out. StellaS’ future aspiration is to scale SheTech so that the project scope grows to have national reach, with a fully fledged free online course platform accessible to girls and young women form all over the country (especially those from rural communities) from whichever location they may be in. She would like to create a network that brings together women professionals in STEM to mentor young girls and women, inspiring more girls to venture into STEM.
We look forward to seeing greater impact through SheTech and to see the gender gap close not only in this but all other sectors.