Science and Engineering Experts have called on young female students to pursue professional carriers in the field of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, STEM in Nigeria. The experts who were drawn from the public and private institutions in Nigeria, as well as the development sector, made this call recently at the Engineering for Girls Symposium, organized by the Center for Economic and Leadership Development, an NGO in special consultative status with the United Nations, ECOSOC. The event which held at the Baze University, Engineering Auditorium in Abuja, had in attendance, the wife of the Deputy Governor of Delta State, Her Excellency, Engr. Dr. Ebierin Otuaro; Hon. Barr. Omowunmi Olubunmi Ogunlola, Member, Nigeria’s House of Representatives; Engr. Kashim Abdul Ali, FNSE, immediate past president of COREN; Professor Tahir Mamman, Vice Chancellor, Baze University; Angela Muruli, Programme Analyst, UN Women, among other members of the public and private Institutions, Development Sector and members of the academia.
The convener of the symposium and the Executive Director of the Center for Economic and Leadership Development, Mrs. Furo Ken-Giami in her opening speech, maintained that, the statistics of female in critical STEM fields is alarming hence the need for the symposium. In her words, “the need for this symposium cannot be overemphasised, the statistics of females in the critical STEM fields, and most especially, in engineering, has remained alarming and worrisome, all over the world.” Continuing, Mrs. Ken-Giami, who is a PhD researcher at the School of Design & Mechanical Engineering at the University of Portsmouth, stated that, “with this issue of underrepresentation of females in these fields, we are failing to take advantage of the critical mass concept- a concept with its root in nuclear physics, which states that if sufficiently enough material required for a nuclear explosion to occur is present and set off, there would be an inevitability of an explosion.
Continuing, Mrs. Ken-Giami observed that, poor representation of females across different sectors of the economy in Nigeria, may be largely responsible for underperformance in such sectors. In her words, “this concept goes further to assert that irrespective of the sector, where female numbers are below 20%, real changes do not take place. So before the critical mass is reached, most likely female voices are not heard and taken seriously enough by the patriarchal system.
On her part, the Wife of the Deputy Governor of Delta State, Engr. Dr. Ebierin Otuaro, advised young female secondary students to pursue a path in engineering, as it offers unique opportunities for girls who are willing to make a mark in the society. She also advised the young students on the importance of Hard-work, Dedication and Focus.
The Engineering for Girls Symposium & Outreach programme is an initiative of the Centre for Economic and Leadership Development. The event is aimed at motivating and attracting a diverse talent pool of girls to the engineering profession in Nigeria, by highlighting the role of engineering in the delivery of the SDGs and hence ignite the potential of the country to build true, lasting and sustainable development in her communities.
The event attracted young female students from 15 public and private senior secondary schools, who also participated in the focus group discussions, which was conducted to determine the impact of the knowledge gained from the symposium on the students’ decision to choose engineering and their understanding of the role of engineering in delivering Sustainable Development Goals.
The focus group discussion was preceded by paper presentations; panel discussions, questions and answer sessions. During the questions and answer session, students were allowed to ask critical questions that will help in shaping their career choices.
The event was supported by some key partners, including APWEN, IHS Towers, FCT Secondary Education Board, Collette Nigeria, Federal Ministry of Works & Housing, University of Portsmouth-UK, & the Baze University.