ADDRESSING THE UNDER-REPRESENTATION OF YOUNG WOMEN AND GIRLS IN STEM

Today’s world has been referred to as a man’s world where representation of the female gender is insignificant or barely non-existent. The society has given men and boys the supremacy over the other gender by unconsciously spelling out areas, roles and functions that are gender specific all to the detriment of the female gender. The gender dichotomy is so grave that some courses even almost meant for the exclusive preserve of the male gender. Little wonder why we still have under-representation of women and girls in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM).

From time immemorial, gender roles in the traditional African families are being spelt out where men and boys have access to quality education or acquire skills to enable them stand out in the society while women and girls have lesser access to education or are being confined to the duties that will make a good wife or mother. The society emphasizes more on man and boys breaking barriers in all aspect but confine the female gender and even when they get the rare opportunity, it comes with a certain level of bias and restrictions.

The stereotype threat on the female gender as being poor at math and science throughout their schooling years impact them negatively, thereby making them show little or no interest in STEM. For instance, it took Nigeria exactly 59 years after independence (October, 2019) to discover her first ever female combat pilot in person of Late Miss. Tolulope Arotile (a Mathematics graduate) who recently lost her life in an unfortunate accident that occurred in July, 2020.

There should be no shortage of inspirational role models for women and young girls dreaming of a career in STEM as there are quite a few of African women that can serve as motivation for the young female generation. Trudy Morgan from Zambia is the first African female Fellow of the Institute of Civil Engineers of the United Kingdom, Regina Honu is a Ghanaian software developer who trains women and young girls in Africa about coding, Funke Opeke is a Nigerian Engineer and founder of MainOne which is West Africa’s leading communications services and network solutions provider.

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