It is a well-known fact that women are underrepresented in the global tech space. While more and more women are starting to build tech careers in a male-dominated field, women, nonetheless, do not get as much visibility as their male counterparts due to this underrepresentation.
For Vivian Agbata, being the Public Relations Officer of Zenithchain, a blockchain company, means she constantly has to make herself heard in places where conversations are steered by men. And in a video session with Tech Next’s Women in Tech series, she revealed that her journey into tech is a story of finding herself through grit and determination.
The Lagos-born graduate of Economics from the University of Port-Harcourt came back to base to hustle and get started with life. After a series of jobs in marketing, promotional and merchandising jobs, she made a decision to seek a career path in tech.
Her interest in tech stemmed from her undergraduate days when she watched her male friends code but felt it was something she couldn’t do. But she eventually decided to set her mind to it and with her background knowledge as an economist, she secured a job as a financial analyst with Zenithchain, a blockchain startup.
“I really wanted a change of career, to go into something sustainable that I know won’t wear off in the future. I decided to focus on tech because it’s the future. With prior knowledge of finance, while studying economics, I thought it would be interesting to go into fintech. It gave me direction on what I want to do in the tech industry.”Vivian Agbata, PRO Zenithchain
Her decision to venture into tech meant going back to acquire technical knowledge. This led her to the National Institute of Information Technology where she studied Management Information Systems. While working as a financial analyst, the company recognized her immense talent as a marketer and then made her the Public Relations Officer.
A unicorn in the blockchain industry
Blockchain technology is one of the most notable developments of our age. There are endless possibilities accessible on the blockchain which includes cryptocurrency, the most popular product built on the ledger, Decentralised Finance (DeFi), NFTs and of course, the metaverse.
The participation of women in the Nigerian tech sector is low. In a survey of 93 technology companies by ONE Campaign and the Center for Global Development, it was discovered that only six had a woman in a top management position. Worse still, more than one-third of the surveyed companies employed no women at all.
There is an even lower concentration of women in the blockchain sector. For someone who has to constantly talk about this industry as her job, how does Vivian manage to hold her end in conversations?
“Before I go into any type of meeting, I do research about everything. I might not be fully knowledgeable about a topic but I always make sure to have an idea,” she said.
Vivian is often the only woman in the room and according to her, this has its challenges.
“Being talked over is one major challenge. It’s a general problem, not just in tech. They feel you don’t have much to offer. If you do have anything to offer, you become unlikable because they feel you’re challenging them in their space. There is always doubt about your capacity in the tech industry,” she said.
Her solution to this challenge, however, is to speak up wherever and whenever she can.
“I try to show my capacity in any space. So when opportunities come or when I seek them out, I am always prepared. Women in tech should push themselves out to be heard, don’t let anything shut you down or out at any point,” Vivian said.
Female representation in tech
The general orientation is that to be in the tech industry means to know how to code. This often discourages people from venturing into the space. But the truth is that the fast-growing tech industry is a big one that allows people to operate in different capacities. There are other roles that aren’t centered on being a software developer; these roles include project management, technical writing, and designing.
“You can learn shortcuts on how to type so you don’t get scared. Go on Google, there are a lot of things. Know the basic things. We don’t have to all be developers”Vivian Agbata
An avid movie lover, Vivian recognizes the impact and influence of other women in tech. she cites Jacquelyn Madu, CEO of AzaPay, and Ruth Iselema, CEO of Bitmama as women she admires in the tech industry.
“There are a lot of women doing great, I admire their strength and hard work. Women like Jacquelyn, CEO of Azapay and Bitmama. It’s really intriguing,” she said.
As a player in the tech space, Vivian sees it as a new and exciting life, one in which she has more to offer and which could offer her more. She is passionate about introducing more women to this life. During my conversation with Vivian, it is obvious that she derives joy in enlightening her friends and anyone who cares to listen on how to utilize various opportunities within the crypto space and Blockchain.
For women in tech and those looking to start a career in tech, her advice is to be productive and make an impact.
“More women need to take up space. Make noise, be productive, make yourself known and create an impact. There’s a lot out there for women in tech, it’s not for men alone.”Vivian Agbata
Visibility for women in tech cannot be overstated as it encourages other women while highlighting the achievements of the women in the space.
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