Ladderworks is a publishing platform of diverse picture books and online curriculum with the mission to empower over a million kids to become social entrepreneurs. Our current series features interviews by our interplanetary journalist Spiffy with inspiring Social Entrepreneurs, Entrepreneurship Ecosystem Builders, and Changemakers who are advancing the UN SDGs.
Spiffy here with the scoop on the entrepreneurial leaders of Planet Earth. As the only interplanetary journalist stationed on this blue planet, I’m thrilled to present this galactic exclusive with Asher Segun-Olasanmi, the head of research and development of Young Females in Tech and Creatives. Let’s learn what’s happening there and how Asher is making a positive impact in the world.
Spiffy: Thanks for joining me, Asher! Tell me, what challenge are you addressing through Young Females in Tech and Creatives?
Asher: Thanks for having me, Spiffy! Through Young Females in Tech and Creatives (YFTC), I work to make sure that young girls who were told they do not belong in tech are re-oriented and equipped to do all they want to do and be all they want to be! The challenge of female tech illiteracy in Nigeria (and beyond) has been fueled by fear, lack of opportunity, and social biases. YFTC tackles this step-by-step by organizing workshops and providing scholarships for females to study tech-related courses.
Spiffy: That’s awesome! What motivated you to tackle this challenge?
Asher: I recall being told by colleagues and adults that I shouldn’t study civil engineering, because I am a woman. They said it was a man’s job, and I wouldn’t be able to compete with them. After laughing about it, I paused to consider why they held such beliefs and what it meant for women civil engineers in the past, present, and future. I became more passionate about supporting women in any tech role (or who would like to assume one) and making sure that they are well-equipped so that their voices count.
Spiffy: How would you say that your organization is working towards a more equitable world?
Asher: As we work to bridge the gender gap, we are also careful to not create a bigger gap by focusing solely on women. They are our priority and the reason for our inception, so our scholarships and interventions are for them. However, webinars and informative sessions we host are open to men as well! Together with YouthUp Global, our parent organization, we work to achieve youth empowerment through boot camps and trainings so that the leaders of tomorrow can perform their roles excellently.
Spiffy: Tell me about a recent organization milestone or initiative. What impact does it make on your audience or community?
Asher: We are about to launch a free three-month cybersecurity workshop for women all around Africa. Over a thousand young people applied, and the response was overwhelming. Connecting with tech mentors and other members of the team, as well as planning and organizing the whole event, has been one of the best experiences I have ever had. Through this, we were able to get an insight into why women want to do tech, what the barriers are, and what their aspirations are.
Spiffy: Please share an experience when you faced failure and didn’t give up. What did you learn from it?
Asher: While I was the youngest member of the team, I was put in charge of a grant application for YFTC in June 2022. I definitely felt the pressure but didn’t let it faze me. Ultimately, we didn’t get selected for the grant. The weight of the team had seemed to rest on me, especially since we needed the funding. It was a tough experience that taught me that things don’t always work out as hoped. I am still looking into grants and funding opportunities for YFTC, and I expect only the best for us.
Spiffy: Thanks for speaking with me today, Asher—it’s been an honor!
Asher Segun-Olasanmi is the head of the research and development team at YFTC. An undergraduate student of civil engineering at The College, Swansea University, Asher is passionate about how this discipline intersects with, and can be used to improve, public health, homelessness, and energy poverty. (Nominated by Rise of Schmidt Futures. First published on the Ladderworks website on May 31, 2023.)
The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the interviewee and do not necessarily reflect those of Ladderworks LLC.
© 2023 Ladderworks LLC. Edited by George Romar. Spiffy’s illustration by Shreyas Navare. For the Ladderworks digital curriculum to help K-3 kids advance the UN SDGs, visit Spiffy's Launchpad: Creative Entrepreneurship Workshops for K-3 Kids and their caregivers here.