IVY BARLEY: CO-FOUNDER OF DEVELOPERS IN VOGUE, GHANA
Programmer and social entrepreneur Ivy Barley had long dreamt of a sisterhood of amazing women in tech. Now she is making her dream come true with Developers in Vogue, a community of female developers who are passionate about using technology to revolutionise Africa.
“The future of technology is female and African,” Ivy is fond of saying – and she is part of that future. As a young girl, technology fascinated and amazed her. She realised she could potentially impact the world from her own little corner by creating software using nothing more than a computer, some electricity, an internet connection, and her own skills. She began teaching herself to code in pursuit of her ultimate goal: to be a female developer.
In 2017, Ivy became a teaching assistant in maths, statistics, physics and computer programming at the African Science Academy (ASA), an all-girl advanced magnet school for science and mathematics. Before she started teaching, Ivy had heard many people claim that women could not excel at technology. Now though, she was experiencing the exact opposite: “The girls were very enthusiastic about coding and had a lot of great ideas. They made a great impression on me, and inspired me to start a sustainable initiative to create the ideal environment where females could code, connect and collaborate.”
Ivy’s Developers in Vogue initiative was born in 2017. In addition to creating a sisterhood of amazing women in tech who encourage and support each other, Ivy and her team train women in the latest technologies using a practical and project-oriented curriculum. They also connect them to real-time projects and jobs, enabling them to apply their skills and earn an income. “Being a Ghanaian woman in tech feels empowering as I keep getting so many life-changing opportunities in the tech space,” Ivy says. There are still plenty of challenges though. “People tend to underestimate my abilities, but that is not a problem for me. I generally have to prove that I am capable of delivering the expected results.”
According to Ivy, there has never been a better time to invest in women, especially African women. She strongly believes that most challenges facing the African continent can be significantly reduced by advocating technology and innovation. “When women are equipped with the right skills, they are in a better position to be at the forefront of the digital revolution.”
Undeterred by people underestimating her abilities, Ivy continues to shatter the glass ceiling. In 2017, she made headlines in Ghana after taking first place in the prestigious #eSkills4Girls competition in Berlin, Germany, a prize that came with €15,000, mentoring from Google and support from Impact Hub Accra. Ivy has trained the more than 100 women currently involved in the Developers in Vogue community, and exposed them to opportunities in the tech ecosystem. She is also a member of the Global Shapers community initiated by the World Economic Forum, a prestigious network of young people making a difference in their countries.
“Whatever your passion is, you definitely need a lot of diligence and determination.”
This article has originally been published as part of the publication "Women in Tech: Inspiration, no fairytales" by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). You can download the publication or order a print edition of the book on the #eSkills4Girls website.