Empowering more women in STEM
To curb gender bias in the field of Science, Technology Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM), government, organisations and communities among other persons have been urged to fervently encourage girls and women to be active participants and contributors to STEM development.
The Country Manager Nigeria, Unlimint, Abimbola Odedeyi, made this call in commemoration of the 2022 International Women’s Day (IWD) campaign with a theme tagged, #BreakTheBias.
According to Odedeyi, to achieve this, girls must be educated about science and mathematics from an early age.
She said: “Institutions and governments must invest in early education STEM initiatives to encourage female participation in this field. Societies and cultures must also consciously stimulate a mind-shift towards women’s roles and their abilities to take on these careers. These societal misconceptions have caused women to overlook some of the many opportunities in this field.
“This is why there is a need for governments, the science and tech-based institutions to enforce stringent policies to promote gender diversity, equality, and inclusion. Also, organisations can also partner with local educational bodies and governments to strengthen learning opportunities in schools and colleges.”
She noted that teaching STEM education to the younger age groups would stimulate their interest, enable them to learn the required skills gradually and provide a higher chance of achieving higher levels of academia.
She continued: “In addition, female leaders in STEM can also combat this systemic lack of confidence by providing mentoring, career support, and seminars for female undergraduates and new female entrants in the space. Those in the field can pay it forward by exposing girls to role models in STEM.
“Furthermore, by emphasising, the variety of STEM occupations that currently exist such as software programming, financial technology, aeronautic engineering, robotics, geology, among many others, women and girls would be more aware of the different areas that they can explore based on their interests, strengths, and skill sets.”
She, however, said while there is still a gap in gender roles in STEM, great strides could be made towards creating a bridge and breaking the bias.
“Hence, to empower more females in science and technology, it is necessary to implement the right gender-responsive policies while incorporating early STEM education into girls’ curricula. These would help to build the confidence of these young women who would eventually become key players in the fields of science and technology – ultimately contributing to sustainable development in Nigeria,” she added.