“Growing up as a woman in Kenya, there was a lack of female role models within STEM for me to engage with and learn from” says Wanjira Kamwere, program lead of WISE4Afrika. An initiative by Microsoft to inspire women to take up careers in technology. Microsoft through its 4Afrika engine is partnering with Strathmore University, Kenya to extend the WISE Mentoring Program into Africa.
WISE4Afrika, Wanjira Kamwere says is a manifestation of Mentors across Borders. An initiative pioneered by women tech leaders at the Microsoft India Development Centre and Microsoft Kenya.
WISE Mentoring Program
Women in Software Engineering (WISE), is an idea by women engineers working at Microsoft India. These software engineers wanted to help women engineering students shape out successful careers in technology. After a successful program in India, Microsoft decided to scale the program up by taking it global. As empowering women in technology is a global issue.
Microsoft shares that 30 female students are receiving coaching from fellow female engineers and executives. Over nine months the students will recieve in-person and virtual training and coaching. Taking them through trainings on how to leverage AI and Machine Learning to build solutions. As well as learn to contribute to open source projects, participate in hackathons and submit proposals for papers and posters at conferences.
Wanjira Kamwere says that WISE4Afrika is currently running in only Strathmore University. However Microsoft hopes to follow an approach of starting small, learning, improving and then scaling the program to other African countries.
WISE Mentoring Program is one of the several initiatives by Microsoft in the region to encourage diversity and inclusion. Some others include the LEAP Hackathon program and Codess Kenya. “We are collectively supporting a culture where more women are attracted to careers in technology” she says.