It was 5pm and we had an empty room with only the organizers of the first Girl Geek Dinner in Kampala present. We were a bit worried, to say the least. Did our emails and social media campaign not reach the intended audience? But thankfully this was not indicative of the success we were about to have. At 5:10 pm the first women arrived, followed quickly by 40 more. Our efforts were more than rewarded.
For our very first meeting, we thought it was important to invite a wide-range of female speakers to inspire the women to continue to pursue careers in technology. We also knew it would be a draw for attendance.
Christine Ampaire (@axtine831), business analyst from ThoughtWorks, kicked off the event with an introduction of what Girl Geek Dinner is and its objective. She later called on the first speaker of the day, Betty Enyonam Kumahor, the regional managing director of ThoughtWorks Pan-Africa, who talked about the birth of her passion for technology and the path she took to her current position. Her experiences captured the attention of the women in the room, proving to us that individuals can actually make a difference.
The second speaker, Viviana Terceros (@vivi_t87), consultant developer at ThoughtWorks, emphasised the attributes of a technology consultant while engaging with a client. As part of her amazing talk, she revealed that a good listener makes a good consultant. Nodumo Dhlamini, a Program Manager at RUFORUM, followed and spoke about what it meant to be a woman developer after graduating from university.
The event was well attended by 45 culturally diverse people, with more women than men, as expected. The environment was welcoming and allowed many women to become aware of the different programs that are organized for their development. Some of the attendees shared their stories of change as a result of these programs.
Was it worthwhile, we asked ourselves after it was over? Is it important to work towards having more women in the technology space? Have the same questions run through the military's administrators minds or those from other fields with few women working in the space?
When I looked at the room full of women with a glint of excitement in their eyes, I knew this gathering had made a difference. It gives me hope to know that this talent will be put to good use, that these women will get the mentorship that they need and more so, that women believe that they are an integral part of the technology space in Uganda. I look forward to our next Girl Geek Dinner and to seeing our numbers grow.