The rising number of illiterates in Nigeria has made the call for a lasting solution louder. And there is a special emphasis on female literacy given the very low figure of girls who are in school as compared to boys.

Contributing in this regard, some distinguished Nigerian women, who are reputable for efforts on women empowerment and other noble causes, are suggesting that it is not just sufficient to increase girls access to education in Nigeria, but also of enormous gains is the need to lead, inspire and encourage more girls to pursue different careers in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics)

As such, this column has followed some of these notable Nigerians who we have fittingly identified as STEMsters, as they are taking exemplary steps in bringing many Nigerian girls into the STEM space for greater individual opportunities and for Nigeria to take advantage of the STEM world just as the UK, USA and other advanced worlds.

ANNE-MARIE IMAFIDON
The UK-based renowned STEM advocate, Anne-Marie, is an attractive image of all that is amazing, rewarding and promising about career paths in STEM.

The young entrepreneur captured the mind of the British public from childhood when at just age 10 she passed two GCSEs (Mathematics and ICT). The following year, Anne-Marie, who had already been branded a child prodigy by several British newspapers, passed an A-level in computing with ease.

Fired by rare determination to make significant marks in subject areas that have been described as tricky for women and exclusive to men, she pursued her first degree in Oxford University and later became one of the youngest to have a Master’s degree in Mathematics and Computer Science in the same University at age 20.

Expectedly, her exceptional attainments and alluring credentials made her the biggest wish of many blue chip companies in the UK and beyond. But she eventually settled for the leading global investment bank, Goldman Sachs, which was her first experience in the corporate world.

Anne-Marie later moved to Hewlett Packard, and Deutsche bank before founding Stemette, an award-winning social enterprise that has since inspired more than 14,000 girls and young women into Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.

The 27 year old inspiring entrepreneur was awarded Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) by the Queen of the UK in the 2017 New Years Honours for her services to young women and STEM sectors.

The highly motivated Anne-Marie has stated that the honour was a fillip for her firm resolve to help in expanding the STEM space for young women in the UK, and Africa.

Anne-Marie Imafidon

ADETOLA SALAU
Unlike many Nigerians who returned home to chase more financially-rewarding endevours, Adetola Salau’s prime goal of relocating from her place of abode in America to Nigeria is to offer her best in the improvement of Nigeria’s poor education sector and drive more awareness for STEM in the country.

Little wonder that since her return to Nigeria a couple of years ago, Tola, as she is fondly called, has been deploying all strategic platforms in ensuring that discussion on education is constantly on the frontburner.
As such, the vivacious international educator and engineer is always seen dishing out insightful thoughts on the advancement of STEM in newspaper articles and sharing profound opinions on the state of education and ways to get things better on reputable television stations like the Channels TV.

Notably, in every platform she has deployed so far in the promotion of this noble cause, Tola never ceased to tell of her impressive career journey to suitably connect with her audience who are mostly young women.

Tola, a product of a home with love for scholarship, had a B.Sc in Chemistry from Fordham University, New York; and from there she proceeded to bag two Master’s degrees in Chemical Engineering and Engineering Management from Syracuse University, New York.
The passionate STEM crusader founded Carisma4U Educational Foundation, a social innovation enterprise that focuses on the transformation of the educational system especially STEM education in Nigeria and Africa as a whole.

She is presently working on drawing the influences of relevant sector holders in achieving her goal for the development of education in Nigeria and beyond.

Adetola Salau

BEATRICE KOLADE
Many followers of worthy causes have been filled with joy and gratitude over the steps taken by Mrs. Beatrice Kolade, wife of the respected technocrat and former Nigerian High Commissioner to the UK, Mr. Christopher Kolade, towards firmly situating the advancement of STEM in the projects of Christopher Kolade Foundation (CKF).

The CKF, an NGO, was founded a few years ago by the renowned corporate leader, Mr. Kolade, to support education and the economically disadvantaged amonsgt others.

But the organisation, as heard, has just been reinvigorated by the valuable inputs of the chairman of its board of trustees, Beatrice Kolade, who is a staunch STEM driver.

Indeed, nothing would have given sufficient validation to the vigour and thoughts the accomplished woman would have put into the works of the foundation than the CKF 2017 Stemma Hands-on Empowerment (SHE) Fair.

Concerned with the low representation of female students in the Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) fields, the brilliant and amiable chairperson supervised some workable activities for the SHE platform to nurture and reignite the interest of female students in science and technology.

And true to projection, the fair was a magnet for an overwhelming number of female students, many of whom talked about the inspiration they received and their renewed confidence to pursue careers in STEM.

Meanwhile, Beatrice has affirmed that the foundation targets female students in public schools and that more attention is being paid to girls’ participation in different areas of learning, including science and technology.

Beatrice Kolade

TIMIPRE WOLO
Timipre Wolo’s quest to see an impressive number of young Nigerians, particularly females, attain success in STEM is one of her ultimate life ambitions.

And she is not flagging in her efforts to firmly situate this worthy resolve. From her days as a student till date, she has been in the leadership of entrepreneurship, movement of alluring causes and processing of greater opportunities for young people especially girls.

After a first degree in Law from Ambrose Ali University in Nigeria, she moved to the UK where she obtained her Master’s in Oil and Gas Law at the University of Abeerdeen, Scotland and graduated in flying colours.

She became known in Abeerden for her role in assisting some Nigerian students through the difficulties of settling into their new academic experience and a different society entirely. Her popularity soared after her graduation as one of the recognisable Nigerians in Scotland on the strength of her remarkable entreprenuerial strides.

She later relocated to Nigeria and took up an employment with the Petroleum Technology Development Board (PTDF) where she was actively involved in formulating strategies for capacity development and training for the government agency.

Timipre’s strong desire to give more to the society made her leave the lucrative PTDF job and set up TFN Energy Limited, Centre for Gender Equality, Education and Empowerment (CGEEE) and Timipre Wolo Foundation through which she launched an initiative that enabled many young Nigerian women including some men to get trained and become internationally certified commercial helicopter pilots for the oil and gas industry.

The delectable and witty entrepreneur is said to be working on an innovative scheme that will draw more girls across Nigeria into the STEM space with the belief that women, according to her, “can take a leap and break any glass ceiling,”

Timipre Wolo