Girls in Tech has been one of our collaborating partners here at King’s. We had a quick chat with Melisha (MD at Girls in Tech) about the state of the industry, what she has learned about the tech industry over the years and how she’s creating impact while doing what motivates her.
Melisha Ghimire currently works as a co-managing director with Ms. Astha Sharma in the Nepalese chapter of Girls In Tech. On the road to becoming a girl in the tech industry, these girls saw many gaps in the industry which they are looking to address with their personal and professional milestones. Their purpose is to introduce females in non-traditional roles in the industry, reach out to people beyond the hills surrounding Kathmandu Valley, and most importantly break the misconception regarding involvement in the technological sector is mostly about programming and coding.
“We were two girls and forty six boys in the class in our engineering days and that got me really curious on why the numbers were that different”, says Melisha. At the same time she started getting involved in programs, events and started working for various organizations where the ratio between girls and boys was always like that classroom. While talking to a lot of young people and also reflecting on ourselves, we realised how close friends and family along with your mentors will suggest you a professional career that has many scopes in the future, that pays well which could give you a stable income for a long term and yes IT is one of the sectors people recommend by saying “yesma dherai scope cha” but not much beyond that. This shows us that young people aren’t being exposed to all these new career options that are available to them which subsequently leads them to again getting a job in some other sector. We are a team of 72 members where the only male member is our founder for the Nepalese chapter. Day to day operations and work is handled by an all-female team which is a great strength for us to show these young girls on how females can take all the roles in the company. Goal of the company is to reduce that gender gap in the tech industry and having experienced that ourselves, it has become a very personal goal for us at this moment as well. With various programs that range from personal development to bootcamps on the technical end of the sector, we are trying to cover a vast area of knowledge and skill development among these people. Giving them the tools to work and teaching them how to run the tools is just one side of the coin, this does equip them but we also need to empower them by running various mentorship and personal development programs.
Goal of the company is to reduce that gender gap in the tech industry and having experienced that ourselves, it has become a very personal goal for us at this moment as well.
From the college days, we were among few girls in this industry but we were very actively involved in this sector which gave us multiple national and international opportunities. During this time we grew our network, we met a lot of like-minded people and another pattern immersed in front of us. Most of these events were limited within the Kathmandu Valley. People from outside the valley would have a more difficult time than us to participate in these programs and then use the learned knowledge in their place of residence. That led us to our second goal which was introducing these programs to people throughout Nepal. We are currently working in province 1, 2 and 5 very actively with province 6 being the next place in our calendar. People living in the valley have been exposed to the capabilities and usability of technology in various sectors but we struggled the very first time we went outside the valley and into Janakpur. There are places and people who have access to the internet via wi-fi or mobile data and have at least a smartphone but there lies a big gap in knowing how to use these technologies and doing something out of it. These challenges led us to increase the portfolio of programs we offer. We perform a capacity need assessment where we ask people from different places to fill out forms in which they tell us what they wish to learn and we then design the program and/or find people who can help us with it and we get there prepared to upskill people in that area. Sometimes it starts with teaching them how to fill out the assessment form. We had just begun going outside the valley with various programs when we were hit by a pandemic and everything went online. This was a challenge faced by many people that turned out to become a great opportunity for us as we looked into introducing, teaching, and making people use the productivity tools like emails, instant messaging, video calls to attend classes and programs along with the use of Google Suite for various personal and professional tasks. People realised it’s a necessity to study and work from their own home. Tech or use of tech is in every single industry right now, different hardwares and softwares might be in use but they are part of the job and knowing how to navigate through them well can be a very big advantage especially for people who are in high school or undergrad as that’s the time they are worried about their future the most. So showing them the possibility in various sectors with the use of technology has enabled us to expand their horizon beyond choosing a traditionally picked profession. Many of us talk about diversifying different professions and we want that too, we started off by exposing people into other sectors.
… the most personal reason for me is to break the misconception about how this industry is mostly about coding and programming. Me, personally, am not a very big fan of programming and I know a lot of people involved in this sector share the same sentiment.
The third reason for us to be here, which also happens to be the most personal reason for me is to break the misconception about how this industry is mostly about coding and programming. Me, personally, am not a very big fan of programming and I know a lot of people involved in this sector share the same sentiment. Sadly that’s what we have been exposed to and that remains in our head. Success stories are mostly about building famous products, websites, applications which would typically require you to be able to code but the industry is much larger and beyond this part. On top of my head right now we have data analysis and digital marketing which is leading the industry in its usage. It is further supported by cloud computing and artificial intelligence which makes our work faster, easier, and accessible to people in different locations. Reading data that has been collected by the system based on our habits to aid in making decisions which in turn will help us get to what we like the most faster and easier is fascinating. You’re reading into people’s habits and appearing where they are at the time they are active. We need to make sure people see this industry beyond a person on a table with a cup of coffee and headphones writing codes on their computer. We also need to expose people to possibilities in this sector with products and services that are already around them or in their hands in most cases. If you run a social media page from a mobile phone building a personal and/or professional brand, during the process you’re already doing a lot of data analysis at your own level. For example, people posting most content in the evening hoping that that’s when most of the viewers are free from their class/work and are on their devices surfing the web is supported by the data that shows people being active on that time, that’s one use of it which people do practise. If you run a youtube channel, you’ll again read the data to know how, when and to whom to deliver the content. The increasing exposure to different possibilities has enabled many youth to also think of doing something of their own with this computer-internet synergy. Tech entrepreneurs have taken the challenges of changing the way people have access to many facilities from a single hand-held device. The world has become as small as the size of your phone’s screen.