Guiding young Irish women, who lack representation in Stem fields, all the way to world finals
Evelyn Nomayo is giving girls the opportunity to explore options they may otherwise not consider
Rachael Akano (16), Margaret Akano (17) and Joy Njekwe (17), with Evelyn Nomayo, founder of Phase Innovate.
“My passion is to support women from underrepresented communities in tech,” says Evelyn Nomayo, who is the founder of Phase Innovate, a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to bridging the gender and race gap in Stem (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) fields in Ireland.
The Nigerian-Irish full-stack web developer moved to Ireland in 2003 with an educational background in economics and statistics from Nigeria. However, it wasn’t long until she decided to upskill and become an expert in the field of information technology. Securing a master’s degree in both computer science from University College Dublin and web technology from National College Ireland, Nomayo is now a PhD research fellow in Trinity College Dublin.
As well as furthering her education, Evelyn places a significant value on technology entrepreneurship for women and she has taken it upon herself to be the driving force in giving young girls the opportunity to explore options that they may otherwise not consider.
“Most of my educational background in Ireland is in the area of IT, and most of the time I would be the only one in the classroom or in work that is black and also female. That’s my inspiration for Phase Innovate,” she says.
Founded in May 2018, Phase Innovate revolves around mentorship and guiding young adolescent women who lack representation in the Stem fields. Nomayo liaises with local secondary schools in Drogheda, Co Louth, where she is based, to give talks to transition year students in the hopes of finding new mentees to help guide. She is currently mentoring a number of teenage girls.
Earlier this year, the self-proclaimed technology evangelist entered six teams into the 2020 Technovation Girls, an annual competition that allows girls to tackle community issues through technology. Of the six teams she mentored and guided throughout the competition, four made it to the semi-finals. Furthermore, a team of three Nigerian-Irish teenage girls secured a place in the senior division finals after creating the Memory Haven app.
The app supports people living with dementia who need help with challenging memory losses, recognising friends and relatives as well as speaking. The app was created to support the 500,000+ people in Ireland whose families have been affected by dementia. Losing a family member through Alzheimer’s was an inspiration for why Evelyn and her team of secondary school girls, Rachael Akano (16), Margaret Akano (17) and Joy Njekwe (17), decided to create Memory Haven in order to help those impacted by the disease.
App users can choose to register as a dementia patient, caregiver, relative or a doctor. Doctors have to share information about where they are practising and once logged in, they can view patient details, chat with patients or schedule appointments. They also have access to patient details.
People who register as dementia patients can explore a number of app features. Some of which include pictures, a section to upload, receive and share photos to be played back as slide shows and Reminder Alerts, which allows users to set tasks for the day along with an alarm. The Memory Game feature allows users to put their memory to test and help improve cognitive abilities.
In the near future a lot of social problems will be resolved using technology
Evelyn’s Technovation Girls finalist team will be representing Ireland to pitch the app on August 13th-14th at the 2020 virtual Technovation World Summit event as the only EU country to qualify in the senior category this year. The 2020 Technovation Girls competition saw 5,400 students from 62 countries create more than 1,500 apps collectively, each team using their passion for technology to address real-world issues.
If successful in becoming a grand prizewinner in the Technovation 2020 Girls competition, the team hopes to use the educational sponsorship along with Government funding to start up the app efficiently.
Future development plans for Memory Haven include adding a fingerprint and face recognition feature for patients who may forget their password, as well as a personalised memory game to help strengthen cognitive abilities.
When speaking on the future of tech, Evelyn Nomayo says: “In the near future a lot of social problems will be resolved using technology. That’s my goal – using an app to solve social problems.”
Now they have received sponsorship support from Microsoft, the team hopes to launch the app in the US and Europe. They also want the app to be available in an array of different languages in order to help as many families affected by dementia as possible.
Read: How the Irish team won