- This event has passed.
Brian Geyer Dissertation Proposal Defense
February 17 @ 1:00 pm - 3:00 pm
Intersectional Identity and the Development of Kenya’s Tech Sector
Kenya’s technology sector is the premier national technology sector in eastern Africa and one of the largest on the continent. As an important part of the country’s long-term economic development, the government’s Vision 2030 development plan uses the sector’s ostensible moniker – Silicon Savannah – as the future name of a proposed tech-centric metropolis. Due to this importance, the sector enjoys a great deal of interest from not just international venture capitalists, but likewise from development organizations. International development literature frequently discusses the importance of women’s empowerment as a means of lifting a population overall, especially within the most economically-productive sectors of a country’s economy. As such, there is significant interest in those who work in Kenya’s tech sector, especially with regard to women. This study will contribute to scholarship about whether or not development of a given industry in a developing country will be successful when considering only gender and whether or not taking an intersectional approach to targeted identities would ensure development interventions are effective.
Though based primarily in Nairobi, there are important sector employment opportunities in other major cities within the country, including Kisumu on the shores of Lake Victoria. Previous observations of activities in both cities in preparation of this study has suggested that women are more successful at accessing this community than in the U.S., as their share of sector positions is approximately 35%, compared to the 26% reported in the States. Intriguingly, the sector seems to have a higher rate of Catholicism than Kenya’s national rate of ~20%. In addition, sector professionals were initially reticent to volunteer information related to their ethnicity, which might be indicative of consternation about this subject in urban Kenyan society. And perhaps most importantly, there is little agreement among sector professionals regarding the cohesiveness of their industry as a discernible community, a fact emblematic of the broader lack of cohesion amongst Kenyan professionals. To further explore these initial findings, this multi-sited study will utilize an intersectional approach to Kenyan tech professional identity, taking into consideration participants’ gender, ethnicity, religion, location within the country, and socioeconomic class, to investigate how one’s intersectional identity affects their ability to find work within this nationally important industry. This study relies on the community of practice framework, identifying the bodies of knowledge, practices, and behaviors shared among Kenyan tech professionals working in Nairobi and Kisumu.