Fatoumata Thiam is a PhD student at the Centre of Excellence in Mathematics, Informatics, and Applications (CEA-MITIC) in Senegal. Her research focuses on Self-optimized Irrigation System based on the Internet of Things (IoT) in the Sahel. The Sahel is characterized by desertification and advancement of the sea, which accounts for limited access to arable farmland, as well as increased urbanization that threatens water resources. The resultant conditions are affecting farmers and their yields significantly, with the need for immediate advanced alternative irrigation. Ms. Thiam’s study aims to provide modern and affordable technology to farmers in water management, and precision irrigation with IoT.
Fatoumata noted that she developed a passion for science at an early age which influenced her choice of study. She stated:
“I’ve always loved science and I grew up in it. Very early on I had access to computers, digital equipment, music players, etc. and it has always caught my attention and curiosity. The operation behind these technologies has always aroused my curiosity. Later, when the opportunity to do computer science at university arose, I seized it.”
Noting some challenges, Fatoumata indicated that as a woman in a male-dominated area of IT, she is faced with gender-related impediments. She said “It can be difficult to evolve in this professional environment where the majority are men. As a woman, one may face unique barriers in the IT industry, such as work-life balance. For example, being more likely to take time off to care for our families can affect career progression. It is important to recognize that women have an important place in the information technology industry and must be treated fairly and justly. Conscious efforts should be made to remove barriers and promote an inclusive and diverse work environment for all.” In spite of these challenges, her family has been a robust support system for her growth and career path.
In the future, Fatoumata seeks to further broaden her horizon in IT and its related fields. She looks forward to commercializing her research on a large scale for maximum impact. She believes that with the necessary support and mentorship, women possess the ability to provide solutions and positively impact the digital sector.