The Microsoft Africa Development Centre (ADC) has taken a significant step towards bridging the gender gap in the Kenyan tech industry by launching the Women Inspiring and Nurturing Students (WINS) program.

This initiative pairs 70 talented female students pursuing technology degrees at various universities across Kenya with experienced female mentors currently employed at Microsoft for a year-long mentorship journey.

"Women face numerous obstacles to achieving equal participation in many fields, including the technology industry," said Catherine Muraga, the Microsoft ADC Managing Director, highlighting the program's purpose.

"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."

WINS aims to address this critical issue by fostering a supportive environment where aspiring female tech professionals can learn and grow alongside established industry leaders.

Mentorship will play a crucial role in encouraging these students to complete their studies and navigate the transition from academia to the professional world.

This initiative aligns perfectly with Microsoft's broader commitment to creating a more inclusive and equitable tech industry.

"The WINS programme demonstrates our commitment to making the tech industry more inclusive and equitable," stated Muraga.

"By providing women with the necessary tools and support, we hope to reshape the future of technology."

The gender disparity in tech education is a global phenomenon, as highlighted by the 2021 UNESCO Science Report.

While women's representation in higher education has steadily increased, they remain significantly underrepresented in critical STEM fields, particularly digital information technology, computing, physics, mathematics, and engineering.

Furthermore, the report reveals that women are more likely than men to leave the tech industry, citing unfavourable working conditions, limited career growth opportunities, and a lack of access to creative positions.

WINS joins a growing list of Microsoft ADC programs designed to empower women in tech, including campus tours, faculty development initiatives, and the Game of Learners program.

These combined efforts demonstrate Microsoft's dedication to fostering a diverse and thriving tech ecosystem in Kenya.

The inaugural WINS cohort comprises 70 students from prestigious Kenyan universities, including the University of Nairobi, Kabarak University, and Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology.

Other participating institutions include the United States International University-Africa, Dedan Kimathi University, Multimedia University, St. Paul's University, Machakos University, and Zetech University.