2017 Winner of the Systers Pass-It-On Award
Project: Mentorship Program at Kenya Methodist University in Nairobi
Chao graduated with a Ph.D. in Computer Science from the University of Cape Town in December 2015. Her research focuses on supporting those from resource-constrained environments to learn programming on their mobile phones. She holds an MSc in Computer Science from the University of Oxford and a BSc in Mathematics and Computer Science from Kenya Methodist University.
Chao created a mentorship program of 35 Computer Science students, 30% of who are female students. She seeks to have a 50–50 slot for male and female students from the phase starting in May 2017. Currently, only between 25 to 30% of the Computer Science student population at the Kenya Methodist University is female, a reflection of most universities in Kenya.
The second part of the mentorship project involves hosting a workshop for female students and professionals who envision a career in academia and research. The last part of the mentorship program involves hosting scholarship-related workshops for female students in Computer Science. In November 2016, with support from Google, Chao hosted a Women Techmakers scholarship information and training session where 45 students attended from 15 universities in Kenya. For the majority of these students, this was the first training session they ever attended, showing that there is a need for more tech-related trainings and events. One suggestion Chao received was to conduct such a training session outside of the city in order to reach students who are otherwise not in Nairobi.