The Microsoft Africa Development Centre has launched a mentorship program dubbed Women Inspiring and Nurturing Students (WINS) for women pursuing technology studies at universities.

The first cohort of the initiative brings together approximately 70 young women pursuing tech-related courses at various universities across Kenya with women working at Microsoft for a year-long mentorship.

According to the 2021 UNESCO Science Report, there has been significant progress in women’s representation in higher education over the years, but they continue to be underrepresented in critical STEM fields such as digital information technology, computing, physics, mathematics and engineering. The report also notes that more women than men leave the technology field, citing poor working conditions, stagnant careers, and a lack of access to
creative roles.

WINS joins other Microsoft ADC initiatives aimed at growing representation of women in tech, such as campus tours, faculty skilling initiatives, Game of Learners program, and now ADC WINS where we are investing time, resources and expertise to build representation of women in STEM in universities.

Catherine Muraga, Microsoft ADC Managing Director, said, “Women face numerous obstacles to achieving equal participation in many fields, including the technology industry. There aren’t many young women who pursue technology courses in their tertiary education, and those who do often switch to other courses or drop out along the way. Pairing learners with mentors will be critical to encouraging course completion and opening doors for them as they transition from the classroom to the workplace. We believe that diversity can drive innovation and progress. The WINS programme demonstrates our commitment to making the tech industry more inclusive and equitable. By providing women with the necessary tools and support, we hope to reshape the future of technology. It is linked to our broader diversity and inclusion objectives, whose achievement will demonstrate that we are empowering everyone to do more.”

The first cohort consists of 70 students having been chosen from various universities, including the University of Nairobi, Kabarak University, Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology, United States International University-Africa, Dedan Kimathi University, Multimedia University, St. Paul’s University, Machakos University, and Zetech University.