Sunday Aborisade, Abuja
The STEM Damsel Network has warned Nigerian parents about gender stereotypes and cultural practices of girls that could threaten their future careers.
The non-governmental organization said discouraging girls from taking science, technology, engineering and math courses could have negative impacts on their careers.
He insisted it could hurt their careers in the future.
The group’s founder, Ekenedilichukwu Okolie, issued the warning in a statement made available to our correspondent in Abuja on Saturday.
She condemned the socio-cultural challenges faced by girl children, especially in Africa.
She said the STEM Damsel Network reaffirmed the campaign during a one-day sensitization for secondary school girls in Abuja that it organized to commemorate the International Day of Women and Girls in Science.
Okolie said the event aimed to educate female students about careers in science, technology, engineering and math.
She said it was also aimed at encouraging investment in teacher training, encouraging parents to sponsor their daughters to take STEM-related courses as well as boosting girls’ self-confidence and esteem.
She added that the event brought together more than 150 students as well as teachers, parents and volunteers.
Part of the statement read, “In Nigeria, as in other parts of sub-Saharan Africa, there is a large gender gap in STEM. Gender stereotypes, cultural norms, and lack of mentorship are some of the factors that continually hinder girls’ interest in STEM, resulting in low representation of women in STEM careers.
“However, with the 4th Industrial Revolution, the reality of the post-COVID ‘new normal’, digitalization and globalization; all of these trends have triggered sweeping changes in the way we live and work.
“The jobs of the future will be driven by technology and innovation; and STEM careers offer so much more to our daughters, especially the economic empowerment that will help us achieve most of the Sustainable Development Goals.
“Therefore, denying girls the opportunity to study STEM-related courses reduces their chances of getting better jobs in the future, thereby perpetuating poverty among women.
“As part of our sustainability plan, we unveiled the Damsel STEM Mentoring Clinic which is built on a research-based strategic team model to increase the likelihood of participating students pursuing STEM careers and exposing young girls to female mentors and STEM professionals.
“We intend to partner with educators, government agencies and businesses as we continue to educate our young girls/parents about career opportunities in STEM through outreach and teacher training. .”
The statement further quoted Principal Consultant, Market3 Consulting, Enoch Haruna, for saying that “STEM is the future and not just the future.”
Haruna reportedly said, “The highest paying jobs are STEM-based and are also the most in-demand. Therefore, one of the tactics to end the cycle of poverty within communities and the nation as a whole will be to ensure that our women are equipped to compete in STEM careers, as we all agree that with women in STEM, we are opening up the scientific space for women. at the top.
A self-esteem advocate, Ejiro Alechenu, is also said to have encouraged young girls to be self-aware, observant and aware mentally, physically, negatively and positively.
“It’s very important for girls, even in their STEM journey, because it impacts how they see themselves and how confident they become, even in a male-dominated space,” he said. -he declares.
Founder and Chief Creative Officer, Tristetix, Dahlia Akhaine also spoke about a sustainable future, the skills needed to build a sustainable future through strong STEM leadership skills, coding skills, data management skills , communication skills, relationship building skills and long-term thinking skills. .
Owner, Seed of Greatness and Excellence Academy, Reverend Mrs. Agboola, reiterated the need for ongoing STEM education not only for our daughters but for parents/guardians, communities and society as a whole.
This, she said, would help break down stereotypes and cultural norms that have consistently held back girls’ interest in STEM.