The tech industry has long been dominated by men, with women facing significant barriers to entry and advancement. However, tech founders are doing great work to make their companies a great place for women to work and advance in their careers, and Folayemi Agusto is one of them. Folayemi has a unique perspective on the challenges women face in the industry and the opportunities ahead for them.
In this blog post, we'll hear from Folayemi about her journey as a tech founder, her vision for advancing women in tech, and the steps she's taking to make that vision a reality!
R: What motivated you to become a tech founder?
F: I was trying to solve a ticketing and payment-related issue for one of my events, and that’s how I started Tix.
R: What challenges have you faced, particularly as a female founder, and how have you overcome them?
F: I think one challenge I’ve faced that may not happen to most Nigerian men is bias and discrimination from traditional make Nigerian investors who feel you should be grateful when they offer terrible terms for investment. I won’t say I’ve overcome this, but I won’t accept these terms.
R: In your experience, what are some effective strategies for increasing the representation of women in tech?
F: Hire more women. I don’t think there’s an easier, faster or more genuine way. Just hire more women.
R: So how does Tix create a more inclusive and welcoming workplace culture for women?
F: I know I’m going to sound like I’m repeating myself but hiring more women. If there’s only one woman on the engineering team, for instance, she will feel isolated and uncomfortable in her role because she doesn’t see other people like her. That also goes for the whole organisation. Women who are represented would feel more confident and included, and more women would want to join the teams.
R: That’s a great reason to hire more women! What role do you think mentorship and networking play in advancing women in tech, and how can women access these resources?
F: So my answer to this question is probably not what you expect because I feel women are underfunded and over-mentored. There are many great Nigerian and African global opportunities for women to network and for conferences. There are so many of them, but fewer funding opportunities exist for women alone. So the gap between funding opportunities down there and mentorship opportunities up there needs to be closed. Mentorship opportunities can definitely stay where they are, but funding opportunities need to be more. Mentorship plays a good role, but money plays a bigger role in the advancement of women in tech.
R: I agree. How can the tech industry benefit from having more women in leadership positions?
F: So the first one is representation. When women are more represented, other women who are looking towards these roles can see people that look like them in these positions, and they would want to aspire to similar things.
I think women in leadership in tech would also lead to more inclusive policies because there’s some representation at the table, and it’s not just a few men in a room making decisions that will impact both male and female employees. When there are women in leadership, they will have a point of view that men most likely won’t have, and women will be considered in decision-making more.
We also need more women VCs because this could mean more equal opportunities for women. When both women and men have the opportunities to get into funding and accelerator programs, we always find that more men end up being selected. So if more female VCs were doing exclusively female programs, it would help in closing that gap, in my opinion.
R: That makes a lot of sense. What advice would you give other women pursuing a career in tech?
F: It depends on what you’d like to do in the tech industry because there are technical and non-technical roles. If you’d like to transition to a technical role, you have to learn a technical skill and be proficient in whatever you want. I don’t think there’s any shortcut for that, so most people can take a paid course, as I did. I found Udacity very helpful when I wanted to become a UI/UX designer, so that’s been my experience. I also know that people can take less expensive or free courses to learn these skills, like the Andela & Google learning community.
For non-technical roles, you can think about your interests and align them with opportunities in tech companies. For instance, I was interested in being an event organiser, so when I saw an event role at Andela, I applied for it because it perfectly aligned with my interests. So if you’re a content girlie, a great way to monetise that and transition into tech is getting a content role in a tech company. Even if you aren’t a content girlie and are interested in creating content, you can follow people who have done it before because they give expo. There is no glory in starting from scratch and doing everything by yourself. Follow who know road 😉
In conclusion, the conversation with Folayemi Agusto sheds light on the advancement of women in the tech industry. Her experiences as a tech founder underscore the importance of having more women in leadership positions and creating a culture of inclusion within tech companies.
Her advice for women looking to break into tech is both practical and inspiring. She stresses the importance of gaining technical skills and persistently pursuing opportunities while advocating for tech companies to hire more women. As more women enter the tech industry and break down barriers, the hope is that it will become a more inclusive space for everyone.