By Mercy Hill
The University of Toronto Women in Computer Science (U of T WiCS), 15 July 2020, featured Nigerian born Prof. Rita Orji and Dr. Adeola D. Olubamiji as the fifth and third Powerful Women in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM). The other three women are: Professor Mihaela Vlasea, Réjeanne Aimey P.Eng, and Angella Smith, P.Eng.
The University of Toronto Women in Computer Science is a university-based organization dedicated to supporting and highlighting the achievements of computer science students in their academic and professional careers. More specifically, their goal is dedicated to closing the gender gap in computer science by encouraging the participation of female students in computer science.
Prof. Rita Orji is a Computer Science Professor and Director of Persuasive Computing Lab at Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia, Canada.
In a phone chat with Fides, she noted that the honour was based on achievements in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics, and their impacts on inspiring and mentoring the next generation.
‘I have won many other awards and I am always humbled each time I got additional recognition and awards,’ she said, adding that it reminded her that nothing was impossible with God and determination.
Some of the awards won by Prof. Rita Orji include:
- Recognition as one of the Top 150 Canadian Women in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM),
- Canada Top 100 Black Women to Watch
- Top 60 African Women in STEM
- Top 80 Women and Non-Binary People in Canadian Tech
- Named among the Top 50 Young Most Influential Best Brains in Enugu State, Nigeria, in 2017
- Won a Digital Leadership Award as a Women’s Leader in Digital Economy
- Won the ISRII Rising Star Award and Dalhousie Research Excellence Award in 2019
- Won Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada Discovery Grant
- The Federal Government of Nigeria and the Government of Turkey Awards, among others
Prof. Orji advised young people to pursue their dreams against all odds, especially young ladies and other marginalized groups, noting that if they could imagine it, they could achieve it.
A post on the University of Toronto Women in Computer Science LinkedIn Page, partly reads, ‘We are grateful to have been given the opportunity to hear about the amazing work Prof. Rita Orji has done, not just to advance her field, but to advance diversity in it”.
Her passion goes beyond the university. She founded the Education for Women and the Less Privileged and uses all her platforms to push for women inclusion in STEM. She is an inspiration to many young people at WiCS and around the world.