AsianScientist (May. 21, 2021) – From Nobel laureate Tu Youyou who developed the anti-malarial drug artemisinin to carbon nanotube pioneer Akira Koshio, success stories have the power to turn previously unknown figures into heroes and role models.
At times, however, the spotlight isn’t equally shared. Whether in printed stories or television broadcasts, you’re much more likely to see male experts featured in the news, popping up thrice as much as women sources.
Aside from the media, this disparity mirrors the gender gap across STEM. In Southeast Asia’s tech sector, for example, only a third of the workforce are women. Moreover, females make up only 39 percent of university graduates majoring in tech disciplines, dissuaded by low interest in the field coupled with a perceived lack of accessible career opportunities.
For Ms. Nurul Hussain, founder of The Codette Project, success stories are pivotal for igniting an interest in tech—opening up opportunities for aspiring talents to enter the industry in the process. As a Muslim woman herself, she has observed that minority groups are often underrepresented in most narratives surrounding success.
“This has nothing to do with the amount of talent, intelligence and drive we have in this community, but has to do with the lack of opportunity that we face,” she said.
Given this gap, The Codette Project is creating opportunities for Muslim women in tech through a mix of storytelling, skills development and community building initiatives. Through these efforts, Hussain envisions a stronger ecosystem where women have access to resources and opportunities across all levels, from learning about tech to pitching ideas and executing tech solutions.
To create a more welcoming tech landscape for the community, the Codette Cares initiative provides funding and nine months of mentorship to Singapore-based Muslim women pursuing tech disciplines. By prioritizing students, fresh graduates and career-switchers, Hussain and her team hope to kickstart the journeys of these budding talents, opening their minds to the possibilities that a tech career can offer.
With technological advancements revolutionizing different sectors, Hussain explained that their women-only hackathons challenge participants to develop innovative solutions aligned with selected United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, from quality education to climate action.
The event also features extensive workshops on tech skills such as design thinking and prototyping. Beyond enhancing their technical capabilities, women are empowered to think big and harness the power of tech in addressing global challenges.
But more than being a platform to spark ideas, these hackathons are designed with the specific needs of Muslim women in mind. Meals prepared are vegetarian-friendly, while meditation and prayer spaces allow participants to practice their faith comfortably.
At these events, minority women have shown their resolve to break barriers and craft their own success stories in tech. According to Hussain, several past participants have come full circle, returning after a few years to share their inspiring achievements with the community.
Meanwhile, some mothers would bring their children along, while others crossed national borders just to join the event. These are a testament to The Codette Project’s relevance and impact, but they also show the persistent challenges for women in tech, like balancing familial responsibilities with their career development.
Further motivated by these needs, Hussain continues to push for underrepresented groups to be given the chance to thrive in tech. Even within her own team of volunteers, many have experienced and overcome challenges in their personal and professional lives, making the work they do all the more meaningful.
“I’ve seen how hard it can be for my team members to figure out how to get to the next level in their careers and how to chart their own definitions of success,” Hussain shared. “I celebrate their achievements because they are proof of what kinds of successes are possible for our community.”
While The Codette Project has already made waves in supporting Muslim women, their story isn’t finished yet. As the community continues to expand, Hussain hopes to build a physical space for networking, collaboration and celebrating successes.
With her dedication to making tech opportunities more accessible, she encourages minority groups to defy the odds, imagine how they can push the frontiers of tech and establish their place in the industry. By bringing in diverse perspectives, these underrepresented communities are growing into an active—and visible—force in the tech sector’s fast-paced evolution.
“You are seeking to achieve success where your presence has never been imagined and where women like you may have never existed. I hope you never give up and you understand that success can, should and does look like you,” concluded Hussain.
Copyright: Asian Scientist Magazine.
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