If you ever feel like your journey is not perfect, trust your progress — Moyinoluwa Anoma
Every year, in March, women are celebrated worldwide across different fields and industries. The theme for this year’s IWD is #BreakTheBias. As we all know, the tech industry is largely male-dominated and we at She Code Africa constantly work to enlighten, encourage, celebrate, and empower women in tech to #BreakTheBias. To commemorate the 2022 IWD event and recognise and appreciate women-led tech firms, we interviewed female (co-)founders in tech. In this episode, we had a chat with Moyinoluwa Anoma, the founder of Women in Data Africa.
Anoma is the founder of Women in Data Africa, a community for women interested in data-driven careers to learn together, share their progress, and thrive.
“Please note that some parts of the interview have been paraphrased and pleasantries have been skipped.”
SCA: What was your first contact with tech?
Anoma: My first informal contact was in the University where I studied human resources. I had a lecturer who needed help with his research work that had to do with students and wanted me to pass out questionnaires to students, but I told him that I could create a google form to collect responses, then do the analysis for him and he agreed. Funny thing was that I did not even know how to create a google form. I had to learn how to create it, export it to excel and analyze the data. It was also my first point of contact with data.
SCA: That’s very nice. So you learnt by offering to help. Wow. How did you go from that to founding the Women in Data Africa community? What exactly inspired you?
Anoma: Honestly, there was no inspiration. I started a #100Daysofdatalearning program for myself, and in order to keep myself accountable, I posted my progress on my status daily. So many people reached out to me to be their accountability partner. I knew that I couldn’t be there for every one of them, so I created a group chat for us all. We were only ten women at first, and what we did was learn something new daily and post it on the group chat. We all acted as each other’s accountability partners.
It started with me noticing that women were willing to learn but had other things holding them back — it may be the fear of coming from a non-traditional tech background or the fear of starting something entirely new. Whenever a lady reaches out, I tell her about the group chat and ask if she would love to join. The replies were always positive. From 10 women, our number grew. 100 days of my own data learning drew their attention and made me realize that there was a gap and people needed some sort of accountability, so I provided a solution to that problem.
Do not let fear stop you from chasing your goals and getting that bag.
SCA: That’s really great. Thank you very much for deciding to come up with this solution. I know your community is for women in data but is there a specific role that it is focused on.
Anoma: Primarily, I help women build data-driven skills to help them pursue data-driven careers. So that’s what I do and what the community is all about. Any woman interested in a data-driven career is welcome to the community. In the signup form, there is a field to select what data career you are interested in, and if yours isn’t listed, you can always add it. At the end of February, we had over 150 women sign up to join the community without any form of publicity from my end. I also created a spreadsheet for women in the community that has a lot of resources curated for the various roles from beginner to intermediate and advanced. So you actually have no problem when it comes to learning resources. It includes resources related to learning, building projects and even creating your portfolio. I think it’s one of my best works so far.
I also created an accountability system in the community. When you join, you are merged with someone in the community who will be focused on you. They will communicate and reach out to know what you did daily and your progress and blockers. I noticed that learning alone can be tasking, so having someone whom you are accountable to can help in some way. We basically push you to learn and get that bag.
SCA: Welldone Anoma, that’s not an easy thing to do. So, before deciding to create yours, did you belong to any community?
Anoma: Yes. I’ve been part of some data communities and still belong to some.
Don’t ever let a person tell you that you cannot achieve something because you are a woman. That is the biggest lie out there.
SCA: So how has the journey been?
Anoma: We’re officially only two months in, and it has been good so far. For now, It’s a small and manageable community, so I can still reply to messages daily and talk to everyone on the group chat. One thing I did very early was to ensure that I did not have to handle everything alone. I have someone in charge of communication, another in charge of careers and job opportunities and more. This was done to prepare for a time when we would have more people in the community and expand to different countries. Building such a structure has helped us so far.
SCA: Great. Really a smart decision on your end. So, I know that the community is still quite young and early, but have there been moments when you were especially proud of what you were building. Can you share with us?
Anoma: There are two of such moments. One is when members of my community talk about how they would not have been where they are in their learning journey today if not for the community. This is because many of the women were learning on their own last year but there wasn’t significant growth compared to now that they are learning with a community.
Another is when one of us got a job as a data analyst. She applied for a job posted on the group chat even though she felt she was not qualified for it. She got the job. That moment made me really proud of the community.
SCA: That is so exciting. I’m happy for her and you too. Is your community open to new members?
Anoma: We’ll be open to new members soon. I’ve always wanted it to be something manageable. At the moment, we are working on making provisions for more members and would announce when we are ready.
SCA: Great. Thank you very much. We can’t wait! So what’s your international women’s day message for us?
Anoma: Progress is more important than perfection. If you ever feel like you aren’t perfect or where you are at the moment isn’t perfect, learn to trust your progress. Do not worry about perfection because progress is definitely more important than being perfect. Also, don’t ever let a person tell you that you cannot achieve something because you are a woman. That is the biggest lie out there. Especially when it comes to tech. There is a large gender disparity in tech, and it is your right as a woman who is interested in tech to want to bridge that gap. Do not let fear stop you from chasing your goals and getting that bag.
SCA: Thank you for this message. I really enjoyed chatting with you Anoma. We at She Code Africa, are rooting for you and your community.
Anoma: Thank you too for having me and thinking of my community. God bless you.
To keep up with Anoma and also get information concerning Women in Data Africa. You can reach her through the following channels:
Catch up on our last interview episodes:
- With Damilola Olokesusi, the CEO of Shuttlers.
- With Tomilola Adejana, the CEO of Bankly
- With Odunayo Eweniyi, the CEO of Piggyvest
Interview by @emekomahafsah