Sophie Ngassa is a very ambitious and hardworking woman. Privileged to be raised by parents who knew the value of Technical Education, she did sciences at high school. Sophie did her professional studies at the National Advanced School of Public Works (NASPW) Yaounde, and later ENSET Douala where she graduated as a Civil Engineering teacher. She recently added to her academic portfolio by completing a post-graduate program in Water Resources Management at the University of Dschang (FASA).
Sophie has been teaching at a Technical College for 13 years. She has used the classroom to impact directly the girls she teaches by organizing skill transfer and leadership forums.This has given her the unique opportunity to understand why the gender tech divide is still wide.
She is a TechWomen 2014 fellow and a Grace Hopper 2016 Scholarship awardee. She is a Technovation Challenge Regional Ambassador and the Women TechMakers Lead of GDG Bamenda and World Pulse Impact Leader 2107.
In 2010, she founded a youth vocational-technical training and entrepreneurship development center, called CYEED. Through CYEED and the Technovation Challenge program she has trained more than 50 girls how to code in 10 schools and motivated more than 500 girls’ interest in STEM fields. She recognizing the hardship and the struggle for young women to emerge as leaders form her personal experience which keeps her engaged in finding new approaches to face challenges.
She is very passionate about motivating girls’ interest in STEM, providing IT hands-on skills and highly engaged in these activities. Sophie is married, mother of four and loves her country.
Sophie is building a #BetterBreed through CYEED.
She is a STEM advocate in Cameron and a tech instructor to young girls ages 10 to 18. Through CYEED she runs after-school and holiday programs where she teaches them hands-on digital skills. The goal is to inspire them early on and help develop their passion for STEM so they stay engaged throughout their school year.
In her words: “At moment less than 30% of students in STEM programs are girls. I would like to change this ratio: My goal is to narrow the gender tech divide so our women can have equal access to STEM fields and the opportunities they provide. I am on a mission to eradicate our culture’s stereotypes about STEM education being for men in order to give women equal access to opportunities”.
CYEED has 5 main ongoing programs:
1- Bring a Girl to STEM:
Bring a Girl to STEM is a Cameroon based campaign to give girls ages 10 to 25 equal access to opportunities to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics). It aims at getting girls excited about STEM applications and are inspired to choose STEM education at school and later on consider a career in STEM field and they will be encouraged to play a leadership role such as peer-education. Parents will have their views changed that STEM professions are not for their girls. I used two hashtags on social media to help mobilize others around my vision for change; #STEM4Girls, #Mentors4Change.
2- The Technovation Challenge:
This is a world championship that offers girls around the world the opportunity to learn the skills they need to emerge as tech entrepreneurs and leaders. Girls identify a problem in their community and then challenge themselves to solve it. Girls work in teams to build both a mobile app and a business plan to launch that app, supported by the curriculum and guided mentors. Every year the winners attend the world pitch summit that brings the global community together in Silicon Valley.
3- The Microsoft Office Specialist (MOS) Championship:
The MOS World championship is a global competition that tests students skills on Microsoft Office Word, Excel, PowerPoint. Top students are invited to represent their respective countries at the world championship in the US and if successful, may continue on to the World Championship.
4- Google Code-in:
A Global competition for Pre-university students ages 13 to 17 are invited to take part in Google Code-in: A global, online, contest introducing teenagers to the world of open source. Mentors from our participating organizations lend a helping hand as participants learn what it’s like to work on an open source project.
5- Holiday STEM Boot Camps:
This holiday program prepares students especially girls for World Tech championships at the Center for Youth Education and Economic Development CYEED by running result-oriented project-based after-school and holiday programs. http://www.cyeed.net/ https://www.facebook.com/cyeedngo/
Being ambitious, Sophie has plans to achieve more than she is currently doing already.
She aspired to inspire 1000 girls in one year to achieve their career aspirations and potential at all levels in STEM fields by running programs where she will train these 1000 girls in basic programming and digital skills.
She likewise aspires to set up a multimedia digital empowerment center. This center will be a STEM workshop and ‘maker space’ called “TECH UNIVERSE” and it will expose girls to all the STEM fields.
Through this center she looks forward to doubling the number of girls that attend STEM programs, and greatly contribute towards the elimination of gender disparity in STEM education, building a synergy of like-minded people especially women to foster a culture of role modeling and mentorship.
This will be a well-equipped and safe working environment where they can explore the Tech world without any fear of judgment. It will inspire them to imagine and invent developing a creative mindset. We will run programs that provide hands-on basic programming skills and STEM-related skills for entrepreneurship and leadership development, as well as a STEM mentoring program for girls (you can contribute towards this particular ambition by contacting Sophie via Sophie@cyeed.net).
When asked about her achievements Sophie says: “I have improved on my self-esteem and confidence, and have become more assertive. I am now a role model to girls in my community as I have contributed towards increasing the number of girls in Tech in Cameroon particularly in Bamenda”. This she says is her ultimate achievement. The awards just serve to complement this. Sophie has received several awards including the TechWomen fellowship (2014), Grace Hopper Celebration Scholar (2016), Ambassador for Her Story Matters in Cameroon and World Pulse Featured Impact Leader award among others.
To achieve anything you must first overcome. So what did Sophie overcome? In essence, she has had to rise above sexism stereotypes and assumptions about her gender and ability withing masculine cultured tech environments.
She says: ” my personal experiences are at the root of my motivation and my passion for helping girls and young women explore STEM and to fulfill any related talent and potential. I want to help girls feel like they have the power to go into programs that are perceived as difficult and choose a career path that is regarded as hard. Both girls and boys must feel an equal sense of belonging in these learning environments and the STEM fields more broadly. Closing gender gaps will require broadening the culture of these fields so that everyone feels welcome.
Finally, we asked Sophie for her opinion on what needs to be done to build a better Cameroon.
Sophie believes in building a #BetterBreed which no longer sees STEM — science, technology, engineering, and math — as fields “for boys.” If the next generation can do away this belief which she was made to believe as a young girl we would have improved as a people.
She says it is time to break the ceilings, a woman can do the same job that a man does.
Drop a comment and join us in celebrating this dynamic youth worker!