Foundation Challenges Girls to Explore Careers in STEM 

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By Vanessa Obioha

With the global call to empower more girls in technology, the Bimbo Odukoya Foundation recently hosted 400 girls from 13 secondary schools in Local Educational District VI of the Lagos State Educational Board  in Lagos to a Girl Empowered Conference.

The conference was an opportunity for the foundation to reiterate the need to bridge the gender gap in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM).

Held at the Fountain of Life Church in Ilupeju, Lagos, the schoolgirls had the privilege to be lectured by leading women in the technology field. One of the speakers, Olaide Agboola, Software Developer, Andela Nigeria exposed the girls to various STEM careers while pointing out that STEM is not gender biased.

“You can be whoever you want to be and your sex should not impede your career path. This is why we want more women to embrace technology, because technology is a liberator,” she said.

The Chief Executive Officer of Code Tutor, Ade Olowojoba, echoed similar thoughts during an  interactive session with the students on ‘Beyond the Classroom: Leveraging Opportunities for Technology’. He encouraged them to dismiss the myth that technology is exclusively reserved for boys.

Another speaker, Charity Babatunde, founder Rave Et al, addressed social media utilisation and internet security. Highlighting the positive and negative sides of social media, she encouraged the girls to explore the endless opportunities of social media, citing examples of role models to follow like the 17-year-old Makoko girl, Sharon Okpoe who built a website to help fishermen in Makoko sell fish online and 26-year-old Nigerian British and Silas Adekunle, who built the world’s first gaming robot, and has just become the highest paid in the field of Robotic
engineering.

Much of the discussion revolved around the theme ‘With Her: A Skilled Girl-Force’.

With the United Nations warning that young women across the globe have less access to education, technology and resources like the internet, and so they are falling behind boys in gaining employable skills, especially in STEM, Programme Director, PBOF, Osasu Paul-Azino, said the Girl Empowered initiative is basically the foundation’s way of empowering the
girl-child.

  “Bulk of what we do is focused on Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM). We use this as base to empower the girl-child and position her to aim for the zenith. It is important to educate the girl-child because when you educate a girl you educate a nation. We have passed the time where the girl-child is relegated to background because they to large extent often hold their families up,” she said.