We have heard about a lot of women in tech but Miss Ivy Barley is breaking barriers. She has not only excelled in a male dominated field but she is also pushing more women to pursue their dreams in the IT. We caught up with her and asked her a few questions.
This is our interview with her;
Who is Ivy Barley?
A social entrepreneur who is currently shaping a world where more African women will be daring enough to lead in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) fields. I co-founded Developers in Vogue, an organization that trains females in the latest technologies and connects them to real-time projects and jobs. In 2017, I was named as one the 50 Most Influential Young Ghanaians. I am also a Global Shaper of the World Economic Forum.
What is your educational background?
I completed my MPhil. in Mathematical Statistics in 2017 and first degree in Actuarial Science from Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology. I’m however a life-long learner and always on the lookout for opportunities to grow personally and professionally.
How did you get into the IT field?
After high school, I spent a year at home while I waited to go to university. By this time we had internet access at home and I spent a lot of time online, sometimes until late at night teaching myself how to code. I learnt as much as I could and started building a few things on my own.
About a year ago, I was working at an all-girls pre-university where my role included assisting the girls with Mathematics, Statistics and Physics. I also taught the girls Programming. Before working in this school, I’d been hearing people say that women don’t like coding. However, I realized the contrary! The girls were very enthusiastic about coding; they also had so many great ideas! Though I had to leave this school, what never left me were the memories of the girls! It dawned on me to start a sustainable initiative that will create the ideal environment for females to code, connect and collaborate. That’s how Developers in Vogue was founded.
What is Developers in Vogue about?
At Developers in Vogue, we train females in the latest technologies and connect them to real-time projects and jobs to enable them apply their skills and earn an income. At our coding bootcamps, females are taught how to code using a practical and project-oriented curriculum. Aside assigning dedicated mentors to them, ladies also build their portfolios by getting experience in the job market. However, what is most important to us is the community we’re building: a sisterhood of amazing women who support each other.
Why is the target only women and do you plan to include men later?
Our target is women because we are solving the problem of underrepresentation of African women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). Until the gender digital divide is bridged, our focus will be women.
Do you describe yourself as a feminist?
I wouldn’t categorically call myself a feminist but rather a problem solver. This guides everything we do in our organization. For example, when I meet with companies to recruit our ladies, I don’t tell them to recruit us because we’re women; but rather because we are competent.
How many girls/women have you trained so far?
We currently have more than 100 women in our community who have been exposed to a lot of opportunities in the tech ecosystem. We have also run digital skills training for 1,100 young people in the past 6 months. What keeps us going is the impact we’re making in the lives of these young women. In our first cohort, we had 6 of them who won a hackathon where they built a waste management app. Aside winning a cash prize, they were given office space and mentorship and have started a business out of their idea. This is impact; and the kind of stories we want to tell in Africa: the stories of bold African women who are taking the lead in unconventional fields.
What is your greatest achievement so far as the founder of DIV?
I would say it is seeing the impact we make on a daily basis. Aside training these women in technical skills, we are teaching them to believe in themselves and be confident. I am proud that the ladies on our programme have been exposed to so many opportunities. Our work has also been featured in various national and international media.
How has social media contributed to the success of your company?
Social media has been so instrumental to our progress and I cannot emphasize this enough! As a bootsrapping startup, we have heavily relied on social media to promote the work we’re doing. The ladies that join our community find us mainly on social media. By using platforms like LinkedIn, Whatsapp, Facebook, etc, we get the opportunity to share our story and connect to our audience. We definitely wouldn’t have come this far without social media: it is so powerful!
Any final words?
I’d want to encourage anyone who has an idea to start something to go for it! When we started, we didn’t even know things would take off that fast. Even if you fail, it is an opportunity for you to learn valuable lessons that will lead you to your next success. Have a vision and work hard towards achieving it. Also look out for opportunities to expand your network because your network is really your net worth.
Follow Ivy Barley on twitter and instagram @ibivarley