Sally Ndung’u

You are your biggest cheerleader, and you are good at what you do. Never stop learning and growing and always remember to help others, you will grow better when you have a support system and others who will bring in a different perspective from what you have.

Country of origin

Kenya

Which company do you work for?

Arifu

What is your specific area of specialisation?

Technology – Quality Assurance/Engineering

How long have you been in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) fields?

7 years

As a woman in a male dominated industry, what has been the biggest challenge you have faced in your career, and how did you overcome it?

Being a woman in a male dominated industry, there are many challenges I have experienced, my biggest being the imposter syndrome.

I would be the only lady in a room, and I would feel like I don’t belong or some of those weird things you tell yourself that makes you doubt what you know.

I always had to remind myself there was a reason I was in that room, I was just as crucial and important as the others, and my expertise is valuable. I learnt to listen more before I speak and I trusted that I do not know everything, but I knew enough, the rest will come as I proceed. I still tell myself that to date!

What inspired you to join this industry?

When I was young, my brother had this desktop that had so many things that fascinated me. I was curious to know more about it and how the applications work (games were top of the list, like how did they build it, why did it do x,y,z … then I would break the game or make it hang or use MS Publisher to make cute cards for my family) I would spend hours in front of it. When I grew up and discovered that technology was more than I imagined, it is constantly changing, I get to work on things that are impactful, I joined, so that I could have a front-row seat and get to answer my childhood questions (am so happy I did).

What changes, if any, have you seen in your field with regards to women in your field?

From when I started 7+ years ago to now, I have seen our numbers steadily grow. I have seen women become more confident in their skin, I have seen more female empowered groups come up like Africa Women In Technology that provides a space for women to meet and share their journey at the same time offer support to others who are joining or want to grow their careers.

How can we attract more women to consider a career in the STEM fields?

By doing things like this, where you show young women in schools or out there that yes this is a male dominated industry, but we have women coming up, women who are holding high seats, women who are ready to offer support to them, women who were/are ready to face the challenges in this industry.

Something else that can be done is to offer internships to girls in primary, secondary and campus’ where they can work and get exposure during their holiday break. This will instil work ethic, savings culture, open their world to STEM and allow them to start harnessing their skills from a young age. It would help them map and create their vision boards of what they would like to be in 3, 5, 10 years’ time…

If you were to advise other young women starting their careers in the tech or within
the STEM fields, what is the one thing you would say to them?

You are your biggest cheerleader, and you are good at what you do. Never stop learning and growing and always remember to help others, you will grow better when you have a support system and others who will bring in a different perspective from what you have.

When not working, what do you do for fun?

Depending on my mood, I read books, work out, hang out with family and friends and play games, travel, binge on a good show, experiment with new recipes.

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