“The challenge isn’t with gender, but with competence. Build competence and confidence” -Favour Aiyegbeni

"The challenge isn't with gender, but with competence. Build competence and confidence" -Favour Aiyegbeni

If I told you that a mechanical engineer was coming to fix my car, what gender would you guess this person to be? The truth is that as a society we have come to believe that certain roles belong to only a certain type of gender. However, there are a few people who have decided to challenge this stereotype and show that man and woman are created equal.

This week, the subject of our Tell! weekly interviews is Favour Aiyegbeni, the female best graduating student from the faculty of technology, University of Ibadan. She shares her experiences so far as a lady in STEM and what she hopes to achieve in future.

When did you know you wanted to graduate as the best in your set?

Well I wouldn’t say I wanted it. I aimed to understand my courses and worked hard to ensure that it reflected in my grades and I guess the result of that was being the best female in my set.

Have you always had this mindset or UI made you do it

I’ve always had this mindset. It has helped me build my capacity in several areas. This way I get not just the grades but knowledge and skills.

In a field like engineering that usually involved cramming formulas -as the movie 3 idiots has shown- how were you able to maintain your desire to understand inspite of the cramming option

Lol…I would say passion. No one can escape memorizing when it comes it academics. But if you are passionate you would go a step further.

Omo, Passionate Jacking, God when. Tell us 7 things most people don’t know about you. Go!

1. I used to act in stage plays in secondary school. I wasnt shy then

2. At some point I considered studying archaeology because I liked ancient stuff and history

3. I love animals. When I was seven I cried when my goat was killed for Christmas. I didnt eat the meat

4. I am a day dreamer. Sometimes I cannot control it and people think I’m worried about something.

5. A part of me has always wanted to start a business though I’ve been known as a bookworm

6. I spend a lot of time reading stuff on social media though I do not post.

7. I am very shy.

Aside academics. What other activities did you do in University?

I hed a couple of leadership positions such as being the financial secretary of my department and the head of Judges Recruitment for Hult Prize. I also won Hult Prize UI challenge with my team and was a regional finalist. I volunteered for StemBelle – a female-focused organization passionate about encouraging more girls to take up careers in STEM. I was also involved in a community-based project with YEAST – It was a career senstiazation programme. We tried to enlighten high school students of various career paths that they were not familiar with and also advise them on ways they can work on personal development.

What would you say was the most challenging part of being a female in an engineering department

I won’t really say there was a challenge with gender but with competence. I think everyone faces that. Getting enough credibility so that your thoughts or views are easily accepted. This helps you communicate better. Like recently I was really excited about participating in an aerospace competition. When I approached some people to join my team they claimed to be busy or didn’t really take it seriously. At first I felt something was wrong but then I realised that was the first competition I was participating as the team lead. I had participated with others as a member in the past. It was safe to say they didn’t trust me to handle it well. But after winning a couple of competitions and proving my competence, it’s been easy to convince people to work with me.

If there’s one thing you could change from your university experience. What would it be and why?

Well…I guess I would have tried to enjoy every moment. It went so fast lol. I would have tried to live in the moment without over thinking

Hmm

I think enjoying moments help us appreciate process. This leads to a grateful attitude

What were you up to during the COVID-19 period?

I worked on a couple of projects. I pitched Dronora – a company that provides drone services to construction companies, trains contractors and students – made it to the top 10 out of 968 applications in the Nigerian Drone Business competition. I also got selected as a Young Innovation Leaders (YIL) fellow and emerged 1st runner up in the NASA Space apps competition, Lagos. I also became a YALI West Africa Alumni.

Omo.Dope! So what’s next on the Favour Aiyegbeni To-Do list?

Grad school and community project I’m thinking of starting, LeaversGate – for high school students and leavers. I have started it actually. It’s a community for providing mentorship and training for high school students

You have such great skin. Ever considered modelling?

Nah I don’t even really like taking pictures…loool

But if the opportunity presents itself…

Nah I don’t think so

Thank you so much for taking out time to have this conversation with us. Any advice for young people, especially females who are interested in venturing into STEM?

Well for me I would say it’s very important for you to be confident. Sounds weird right? But it’s often underrated. Recently I have done things I never thought I would be able to because I started to believe in myself more. You would need more of that.


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