‘STEM Education Key Foundation for Economic Success’

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Funke Olaode

The United States Consul General, John Bray has called on stakeholders at all levels in the country to accord women priority to ensure that their voices find representation in collaborative solutions that will have an impact on them.

This is because, according to Bray, without women’s inclusive participation, any gains in economic growth and development as well as advances in science and technology would be lopsided and unsustainable.

Bray made the call recently while welcoming the 16-member delegation of senior tech executives and professionals from the Silicon Valley in the United States to Tech women Mentoring Programme for Nigerian Female STEM Leaders held at Lonadel Nigeria Limited, Yaba, Lagos.

Expressing gratitude to Cedar STEM and Entrepreneurship Hub of Lonadek for hosting the gathering, Bray said the American consulate is pleased to sponsor this series of seminars and trainings by leading women technology leaders from Nigeria and the US who are actively advocating for women in science, engineering, and technology. The reason is simple: STEM education is the key foundation for any country’s economic success, he said.

He noted that despite efforts in promoting STEM education, it is sad that many young women who pursue studies in STEM at tertiary institutions share stories of being grossly outnumbered by men.

“In workplaces, women in STEM fields face discriminatory practices and behaviours from colleagues and supervisors including compensation at lower levels than male counterparts for their labour. They also generally lack opportunities for coaching, mentoring, and growth compared to their male colleagues.

“The U.S. government is convinced that when barriers to women’s full participation in STEM fields are removed, women do better, families do better, countries do better, and the world does better. Whether at home or abroad, promoting women in STEM fields is a top priority of the US government.

“When Ambassador Symington opened the American Space in Yaba in 2017, co-hosted by Co-Creation Hub (CCHUB), he pledged the U.S. government’s support for additional projects that might expand the use of technology in Nigeria.
“We have since funded a number of projects to increase STEM education in different parts of the country. In October 2017, we hosted RoboRAVE, a robotics education programme in Lagos and Abeokuta. Last December, we funded the establishment of a technology hub in Lagos that will host training and mentoring sessions for persons living with disabilities in various technology-based skills.”

The goal of encouraging the role of girls and women in STEM fields has been the cornerstone of the technology-learning programmes funded by the United States mission in Nigeria.

“United States has invested millions of dollars to directly advance gender equality across sub-Saharan Africa, through activities that promote political and economic opportunities for women, access to health and education services, and efforts to prevent and respond to gender-based violence.

In 2011, the U.S. government introduced the TechWomen programme to empower the next generation of women leaders in the technology field. This exchange programme 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 US.

Bray enjoined everyone present to think of ways they or their organisations can form partnerships and expand their network as women STEM leaders.