By Funmi Ajumobi
United States Consulate’s Deputy Public Affairs Officer, Jennifer Foltz has said it was imperative for young girls to have access to mentors from a range of fields who can help them gain skills and boost their confidence to consider higher education and careers in STEM.
“STEM education is the key foundation for any country’s economic success,” Foltz said.
In the same vein, alumni of the 2021 U.S Government-sponsored TechWomen program on Monday concluded a STEM mentoring program called: EduChamps for 30 adolescent girls from African Church Grammar School, Ibadan.
Supported by the US Government, the alumni are at the forefront of promoting STEM education and implementing programs to encourage Nigerian women and girls to pursue studies and careers in tech fields.
“We are excited to support this initiative that serves as an inspiration for young girls to consider STEM subjects in their future careers in order to solve global challenges.”
She noted that “EduChamps” is one of the U.S. government’s initiatives to engage underserved communities, ensure gender parity, and provide women and girls with opportunities to contribute to creating sustainable and inclusive economic prosperity.
“Foltz pointed out that the United States has invested millions of dollars to directly advance gender equality across sub-Saharan Africa, through activities that promote opportunities for women, access to health and education services, and efforts to prevent and respond to gender-based violence.
Damilola Asaleye, a TechWomen Fellow, said drawing more girls into tech will help close the gender gap in the STEM fields. “With EduChamps, we are taking action to improve inclusiveness and narrow the gender gap in the STEM field,” she added.
Through the “EduChamps” initiative, the TechWomen fellows provided career counselling to the high school girls focusing on opportunities in the technology sector such as up cycling, automotive engineering, renewable energy, sustainable agriculture and space science.
The students received educational supplies such as school bags, school uniforms, textbooks, exercise books, writing materials and sanitary pads to encourage them to stay in school.
In 2011, the U.S. Government introduced the TechWomen program to empower the next generation of women leaders in the technology field.
This exchange program brings together women in Northern California with their counterparts in the Middle East, Central Asia, North Africa, and sub-Saharan Africa, including Nigeria, for a professional mentorship at leading technology companies in the United States.