Gladys Maina — Emerging Leader at TechWomen
Hello everyone, welcome to this month’s last edition of Women Who Inspire Us!
Today, we have a woman who is known for her technical skills and business acumen: Gladys Mania. She is currently an Emerging Leader at TechWomen which works to empower, connect, and support the next-gen of women leaders in STEM through project-based mentorship. It is an initiative of the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.
We can’t be more proud to have Gladys on Women Who Inspire Us.
She is an ICT professional based in Nairobi, Kenya. She holds an MSc. in Information Technology Management and a BA in Management of Information Systems. On top of all this, she is certified in ITIL Intermediate, ITIL Foundation, PRINCE2, PMD Pro, CCNA, and A+.
She’s registered as a member of African Women in Technology (AWIT), Google Women TechMakers, Women in Technology Africa (WiTA), and a 20–21 TechWomen fellow.
She has been literally creating paths for millions of African women to be a part of the STEM industry.
A Sneak Peek into Her Journey
Her career and technology journey has an extremely improbable background. It starts with being a young village teacher who was, unfortunately, widowed in her twenties. She is the last born in a family of four girls. She never met her father as he passed on a few months before she was born leaving her mother with four young girls to take care of with her meager primary school teacher wages.
Her mother did her best to take all of them for vocational training after secondary school. Her two sisters pursued hairdressing skills, another one dairy farming skills and she was enrolled to pursue a medical laboratory course.
It so happened that when she was on a long holiday from her then college, Kenya Polytechnic, now the Technical University of Kenya, a friend introduced her to a cyber café where she could access the Internet and a few other software programs on a pay by the minute basis.
As a young girl from the village then, she was very astonished by the whole concept and that is where her love for computers took root. She could not believe what the computers were capable of doing. The billion mathematical calculations and processes mesmerized her. She would command it with instructions and it was never wrong!
Slowly but surely, she knew that she was no longer going back for her medical laboratory certificate. Before college reopened, she left home and traveled 250 kilometers to Nairobi to pursue her passion for technology. She is glad that she did not look back as she has gone ahead to excel in her career and studies.
Give water to your curiosity and let it help you grow into the person you are meant to be, just like Gladys did.
Rupi Kaur said, “She stands on the sacrifices of a million women before thinking about herself. She used to think of what she would do to make the mountain taller so the women after her could see further.” She resonates with her as she believes that, to know even one life has breathed easier because she has lived, then, this is to have succeeded.
When she discovered how very few women pursue STEM as a chosen career, she decided to do something about it. That is why she got involved with mentoring young women and girls.
She hopes, one day, to be the change that ensures inclusion and diversity in the STEM field.
As a seasoned moderator and speaker, she volunteers for speaking engagements, panel moderation, and discussions with a bias in diversity, inclusion, and equality in technology.
The Starting Inspiration
She is inspired by incredible women who have surmounted all odds to achieve their dreams. There in Kenya, she looks up to the late Professor Wangari Maathai.
She was the first African woman to receive the Nobel Peace Prize, the first female scholar from East and Central Africa to receive a doctorate, and the first female professor in Kenya.
Besides that, she single-handedly opposed the state’s plan to build a 60-storey tower and complex in Uhuru Park right at the heart of Nairobi CBD. The park is the equivalent of Hyde Park in London and Central Park in New York. The park now provides millions of Kenyans with a natural environment for recreation, gatherings, and quiet walks.
Her Simple Pleasures
She is an avid reader. She’s a part of a book club where they pick the titles, read books and then meet for discussions. She also enjoys interior décor occasionally.
Her Message for Young Girls and Women
Dare to dream and then go for it with everything you’ve got. When mistakes and failures happen along the way, as they will, learn to pick up the pieces and swiftly move on.
Thank you so much Gladys for joining us. It was such a pleasure to have you.
Here are few features of Gladys in case you want to learn more about her:
Our Key Takeaway
Don’t let your past define the future. Yes, roots are important, but they are there to hold you steady and not hold you back. Dream on and dream big even if you are told to do otherwise. And have faith in yourself that you can achieve your dreams because you can. It’s all about having that faith in ourselves, it can make all the difference.
That’s a wrap for this week! We will be back next week with another inspirational woman and her journey.
Writer’s note: This story is written in collaboration with Hiral Thaker.
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