Nigeria: Girls are smart and excel in STEM fields


Favour demonstrates a computer-controlled remote home lighting system at the robotics lab. Photo: UN Women/ Faith Bwibo
Favour demonstrates a computer-controlled remote home lighting system at the robotics lab. Photo: UN Women/ Faith Bwibo

Favour Odiyo is an undergraduate intern at IntelBox. As part of a team currently building a robot for the IntelBox RoboWars competition, Odiyo creates a subsystem that will give the robot its ‘eyes’ (Computer Vision).

Odiyo was a techie from a tender age, and she has always been curious about how and why things work. Her love for tech, science and math led her to study Computer Science at the Federal University Lokoja, Nigeria. Her tech interests are Artificial Intelligence (AI) / Machine Learning, Software Engineering and Data Science.

Favour says the most challenging thing for her is the very fact that she’s a girl in a predominantly male-dominated field. ‘The idea that girls should be domestically inclined alone is a huge factor; I meet people who feel I am too daring to be in tech. This widespread ideology is why there are fewer girls in the field. However, I overcome this by relating with people with better ideologies and focusing on my drive and passion.’

Her workday starts at 9 AM from when she spends the rest of the day working on a project; currently, the RoboWars Project. She writes codes, tests, debugs and go again- till around 5 PM when her workday ends.

Favour hopes that in various sectors of society can better apply technology. ‘The result would be to create solutions that allow people have a better experience in the country. AI can improve health care services like robotic surgeries with high precision; these fields can improve manufacturing, education as in e-learning facilities and improve the overall economy of Nigeria and bring about innovations and better processes in the country.’ 

Technology can lead to inventions in manufacturing in solving some of Africa's economic challenges, help in e-commerce which is fast rising in Nigeria and be a medium for more people to express themselves and bring us up to speed with the world and overall, improve the economic status.

For her future, a beaming Favour states, ‘I hope to be an expert in my areas of interest well enough to provide solutions and continue mentorship of upcoming techies'

Her inspirations stem from the creative aspect of technology. I can have an idea, put it to life, innovate and see things work. I can invent possibilities and contribute to humanity with skill, and it's beautiful to see!’

She also has some words of advice for girls considering joining any STEM field ‘Go for it!!! You can be anything you want to be!’ go after your passion, let it redefine your mindset and pursue it regardless of opposing opinions.

Favour is also a member of an IT Club where she builds web and mobile applications.

IntelBox is a technology company based in Nigeria.  Its core focus is on Innovation, Discovery (Interdisciplinary Research - The IntelBox Learning Center) and Engineering (Technology Consultancy, Advisory and Engineering). The IntelBox RoboWars is targeted at sparking interest among African youth in the fields of embedded systems and mechatronics engineering. Africa has long been at the consuming side of such technologies and this initiative will drive new conversations around it. Hopefully, within the next decade, Africans will be at the cutting edge, building such technologies to solve its peculiar challenges.