Gender norms describe how people of a particular gender and age are expected to behave in a given social context. Harmful gender norms result in many types of inequalities between girls and boys. However, while gender norms can affect all, they are proven to disproportionately affect girls.
Household chores, for example, are much more likely to be performed by girls than boys. Girls account for two-thirds of all children who perform household chores for at least 21 hours per week, which is the amount of time that can negatively impact a child’s schooling.
However, with all that going, times are changing gradually. In this era, many females today have gone against the odds and beat the gender norms, leaving women and girls emancipated, motivated, and capacitated to face it all. In this example, we look at Ms. Doreen Nalwoga who beat men globally to take first place in the 2020 Huawei ICT Global Competition.
The Huawei ICT Competition is an annual competition that challenges university students around the world with ICT knowledge ultimately inspiring innovation with the theme of “connection, glory, future”.
In the competition, Uganda was represented at the global finals by three students; Doreen Nalwoga from Lira Univesity, Shaffic Nyanzi, and Emmanuel Kiguli both from Muni University. The team with Nalwoga in first place won the finals beating 34 countries and 107 teams from Asia, Latin America, East Europe, and the Middle East.
“I would like to congratulate the students who represented Uganda at the 2020 Huawei ICT Competition and raised our flag high by taking the first position globally. This shows that our education sector has not only improved but is now competitive globally and a force to be reckoned with,” Dr. John Chrysestom Muyingo, the State Minister for Higher Education said during a ceremony held to award the team for their excellent performance.
We caught up with Doreen Nalwoga who managed to take first place in competition globally. She’s a graduate from Lira University, with a Bachelor’s degree in computer science—and with her knowledge and motivation, she joined the competition that turned out to be a great success for her.
Here’s what she had to tell PC Tech Magazine in an interview with her.
- The Huawei ICT Competition turned out to be a great success for you. How did you come to know about the competition in the first place?
I came to know about the competition, through the road maps Huawei was doing in universities and I also had a friend who was already into it who motivated me to join—and I did. The exams we had were not the usual exams and they were sort of tricky. The exams were online and required so much focus. Prior to the exam, we had to study and read much because we knew it wasn’t going to be easy. After all the study, we went through a preliminary exam (general networking knowledge including routing & switching, and WLAN) that led us to Nationals, then Regionals, and finally Global competition.
- As the only female contestant and winner among the men, how does it feel?
It feels great. When we compete with the men on the same thing and work together, we can show them our capacity and capability—and somehow they come to appreciate us.
- At what stage of your study life have you met this success?
I was in my final year when I joined the competition, that was 2020—and it is the same year that we had the outbreak of the Covid-19 Pandemic which disrupted a lot of businesses and sectors including education. Physical attendance for classes was halted and modified to be online —the same applied to the competition. It wasn’t easy but I was able to balance between the competition and campus—and lucky enough I was able to complete school and succeed in the global competition as well.
- What strategy did you and your teammates use to beat the other teams to emerge as global winners?
When we had just started regional finals, our instructor told us to specialize because we had a lot to cover. So on the team, each member had a task allotted to them, in case the task was sufficed anywhere, it would be tasked to a member with trust. I majored in Routing and Switching and my colleagues majored in Security so this gave us the allowance to concentrate and better our tasks.
So our strategy was to work on a task allotted to you and most importantly we worked as a team and give our best. Our instructor told us that when you do your best, you did your best. If things didn’t come out, they just failed but you did your best.
- How have you benefited from the Huawei ICT competition?
I have been recommended in different companies, recommended to big projects and it is all because of the practical knowledge I acquired in the Huawei ICT training. Besides that, I have also received material things like facilitation, gifts, cash, smartphones but the topmost remains the knowledge, skills, and referees to big companies. Imagine having the CEO of Huawei as your referee. that is so big!
- Are you working at the moment?
Yes. At the moment I am working with the biggest telecommunication firm in Uganda, MTN under the IT department, as an IT service desk agent but I am also preparing for an interview with Express Automation working on the NITA Uganda project.
- Rt. Hon. Rukia Nakaddama challenged women to take on the male-dominated ICT field, what is your view on her challenge?
She is right, we need more ladies in the ICT field. Our numbers are still low in this field. We are timid and we lack motivation. In most cases, when we find a field that is dominated by men, we look to be the minorities—they underestimate your capabilities and if you’re not strong you can easily change to where you feel comfortable. My advice to women in tech is to keep strong and the men should not underestimate us but motivate us because ladies too can handle the pressure that men do in this field.