Ashanique Moore wants to make way for more girls in ICT
In approximately two weeks, Ashanique Moore will be joining the expanding band of women in the information and communications technology (ICT) field when she completes her Computer Science degree at Benedict College in Columbia, South Carolina in the United States.
Moore revealed that she was initially expected to study marine biology but circumstances made that impossible. However, the opportunity to migrate and enter the technology field presented itself, and she jumped at the chance in 2019.
“Initially I was supposed to study marine biology, but when I was leaving high school, I got into UWI (the University of the West Indies) twice for engineering but didn’t have that kind of money,” Moore recalled.
“But then I got an opportunity to come over here (the US) to study and my mentor asked if I have ever thought about tech and where tech is going. So I did research and found some interesting information regarding the sector. I also had some friends in my year who were also doing tech, so I thought ‘okay cool, let me try this’,” she disclosed.
The 24-year-old Portland, Jamaica native said that, though in the US, the technology sector is still considered to be male dominated, she is not afraid to move into that space, as other women have started to do.
“The numbers can show that women are underrepresented in tech. It is getting better now; you see a lot of women stepping up, especially in leadership positions, more women are open to going into majors like computer science [and] software development,” Moore said.
This growth of female representation in the ICT sector can be attributed to the International #GirlsinICT Day which encourages and empowers girls and young women to consider studies and careers in the technology field.
International #GirlsinICT Day is recognised on April 27 this year and events on the day are geared towards making girls and young women aware of the possibilities ICTs offer, quelling misconceptions about the sector and inviting them to envision their future as ICT creators.
“Having this kind of day dedicated to women showing them that there is a path for you to go into IT really narrows that gap and exposes them to a lot more information and opportunity, and gives them access to people or mentors who have actually been in the space,” Moore said.
“Often times if you have that plug or someone to tap into and ask ‘hey, how did you go through this or how did this work for you’, then getting that information can motivate people to get more involved in technology. The world is going in tech and with COVID everything shifted, everyone went fully remote and that was when tech started to boom a lot more and the career opportunities are endless,” she added.
Now that Moore will be entering the world of work as a software quality engineer at a top rated software company in the US, she hopes to pass on the knowledge she has acquired over the years to help other women transition into the ICT industry easier.
“I am actively involved in an organisation called Passport To College. It is a non-profit organisation with the goal of helping students who have the capacity to excel in college but they do not have the finances to cover it. So we step in and be that middle person between them and their goals. As of now we have over 100 students in college, since its inception about eight years ago. We constantly want to get students involved and try to expose them more to tech,” Moore stated.
She added that the organisation is currently in the planning stages of a pilot programme targeting Jamaican primary and secondary schools to see how they can get more children interested in Information Technology.
On a personal level, Moore, who was also a teen mom, wants to extend a helping hand to other women and girls who are in a similar position as she was, to get the resources they need to get back on track of achieving their goals. The added bonus for Moore would be getting these women interested in studies and careers in ICT so they can hopefully pass on the baton as well.
“When I was 14 I had a daughter and she is here with me now. And going through the entire process as a teen mom— having to leave school, going to the women’s centre and going back into school plus the entire journey to college— oftentimes if I wasn’t strong headed it would have been a different result,” Moore recalled.
“So I definitely want to start some kind of mentorship programme focused on helping women— especially teen moms— who would be going through this kind of process. I definitely would want to give back whether it is time or resources to the women centres in Jamaica, and use the information and the network I have to see how best we can expose more of them to technology,” Moore disclosed to OBSERVER ONLINE.