By Ebunoluwa Sessou
SheEngineer has been designed to close the gender gap in engineering and to change the image of what an engineer looks like and does.
It was also a platform where issues relating to the study of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, STEM, and the need to understand why engineering should be a woman’s game were discussed.
During the just-concluded International Women in Engineering Day, INWED, the emphasis was laid on the need to ensure that disparity that exists in the engineering sector negating women and girls to compete with the male counterpart should be addressed.
The President of Association of Professional Women Engineers of Nigeria, APWEN Engr. Fumilola Ojelade, FNSE, FNSChE, in her address to mark the maiden edition of International Women in Engineering Day, INWED, said INWED is an international awareness campaign which raises the profile of Women in Engineering and focuses attention on the amazing career opportunities available to girls in the engineering world.
The programme which was sponsored by the Royal Academy of Engineering under the SheEngineer Invent It, Build It Project, is designed to bring into reckoning the very commendable contributions of Women in Engineering all over the World.
According to her, the SheEngineer is the first APWEN grant from the Royal Academy of Engineering UK under the GCFR African catalyst programme which is in phase three presently. This project is a capacity building program of APWEN funded by the Royal Academy of Engineering UK for female engineers, STEM teachers, and public secondary school pupils in JSS1 & 2 in the six geo-political zones of Nigeria. APWEN joined women all over the world in June to celebrate International Women in Engineering Day 2020.
“The aim of GCRF Africa Catalyst programme is to strengthen professional engineering bodies in sub-Saharan Africa to effectively promote the profession, share best practice and increase local engineering capacity to help drive development”, she added.
With the theme, “Why Engineering Should be a Woman’s Game”, the Project Director/Grant Awardee, SheEngineer, Engr. Felicia Agubata, FNSE, lamented that engineering has been mostly dominated by male counterparts while females are making up only 13% of the engineering workforce according to research conducted in 2019.
She explained that the SheEngineer was designed for female Engineers and public secondary school pupils in JSS 1and 2 for activities including advocacy and service delivery as well as train the trainers’ workshop for 60 female engineers from all APWEN chapters facilitated by our United Kingdom Partner University of West of Scotland in collaboration with Institute of Engineering and Technology UK.
The workshop will build capacity on how to effectively train STEM teachers. These female teachers will build capacity in mentoring junior secondary school students in STEM as the female engineers are expected to return to their chapter to share knowledge with their fellow engineers who will also train 200 STEM teachers in secondary schools across the six geopolitical zones in Nigeria, she said.
“When it comes to studying Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, STEM, subjects at school. Male and female are virtually at par in terms of performance. Unfortunately, this parity doesn’t always carry over into the professional world thus leading to a significant gender gap in the science and technology workforce.
“Equal representation is especially important in engineering, as engineers design products and solve problems that affect humanity.
Imagine the greater advances that could occur in engineering if men and women were working consistently together and using all the skill sets in the pool.
“Important as it is to investigate what deters young women from pursuing STEM careers, we should also take a closer look at how we can encourage secondary school girls to follow their dreams and flairs with regards to the Sciences. This would introduce a broader range of knowledge and ideas when developing
“In the social sciences, women account for 62% of the workforce. In biological, agricultural, and environmental life sciences, they account for 48%. It is indeed a concern that at the secondary school level, there is very little difference in involvement in STEM subjects by boys and girls.
“Female students perform as well as male students on math and science standardized tests. Female versus male enrollment rates in these subjects are also comparable. So, at what point are young women being discouraged from pursuing a career in the science professions”? She asked.