What did it mean to you to be recognized with a Booking.com Technology Playmaker Award?
The Booking.com Technology Playmaker Award came at a time when I was battling with hopelessness and frustration. I had relocated briefly and was juggling between family, education, and community work. Returning back to my initial location made me feel like a total stranger and my visibility dwindled, even though I felt like I was pushing harder than ever before. Funds were not coming in either. I began to struggle with self-actualization, and pessimism and discouragement kept ringing in my ears – “could it be over?” BUT I STILL HAVE SO MUCH TO GIVE. What else could I do to get some visibility?
These struggles took a toll on me and I found myself shying away from public engagement and becoming increasingly withdrawn. With younger women coming rapidly on board, maybe it was finally over. When I was nominated for a Booking.com Technology Playmaker Award, I laughed to myself. How could I win such a prestigious international award at a time when no one seemed to appreciate my efforts anymore?
Soon after the 2019 awards ceremony, you tweeted about how the #techplaymaker effect inspired you to take up public speaking after two years of avoiding it. Can you tell us a bit more about the #techplaymaker effect and what’s changed since then?
Winning almost killed me with joy. How could I express my gratitude in words?
I have accomplished a lot more after winning the Community Impact Award. The award grant enabled me to reach out to several women and over a thousand young girls with the launch of #WITIN20KGirls. And the best part of the story is that the visibility attracted more partnerships for Women in Technology in Nigeria which have sustained my projects and goals to date.
Simply put, the Tech Playmaker Awards restored all my lost confidence, unleashed the star in me, re-ignited my passion for community service, and gave me all the visibility I needed – it was simply amazing.
Looking to the future, where are you aiming to take your career in technology next? What do you hope to achieve in the next year?
Looking to the future, I am currently working towards my PhD in Computer Science and making good progress. Most importantly, I am passionately working on my goals to reach 20,000 women, girls and youths by 2022 - #WITIN20KGirls, #WITIN20KWomen, #WITIN20KYouths.
I want the girls to follow their own curiosity and trust their own voice. They should remember that their unique perspective on the world is what makes them so valuable.
What advice would you give to women looking to start or pivot to a career in technology?
My advice for women looking to start or pivot to a career in technology is that they have to keep pushing. The opportunities are enormous, the variety and flexibility of career options in the field is a plus for women. Our fears about the field of technology are unfounded; women have what it takes to surpass all barriers and take the lead in the field. It begins with a step, then a leap!
Martha Alade is the Founder of WITIN (wit.ng), an NGO that empowers women, girls and teachers through technology. Martha’s mission is to lift 20,000 women and girls out of poverty by 2022 and equip teachers socio-technologically to become change agents to bridge the leaky pipeline. Martha was the 2019 Booking.com Technology Playmaker Community Impact Award Winner