APWEN Restates Commitment to Female STEM Education

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Oluchi Chibuzor

As part of efforts to bridge the gender gap in the engineering domain, the Association of Professional Women Engineers of Nigeria (APWEN) has restated its commitment towards increasing female participation in engineering, as it launched the ‘SHEENGINEER: INVENT IT, BUILD IT’ project in Lagos.

The programme, which attracted secondary school students, exposed the gender lapse in the sector and charged young girls to follow their passion in engineering careers.

According to the Project Manager, Mrs. Felicia Agubata, while male and female students perform equally well at secondary school level, there remains a disproportionate gap at the workplace as the female gender still accounts for less than 30 per cent of the engineering workforce.

She said the narrative needs to be corrected with the right sensitisation of the female gender whose cause the ‘SHEENGINEER: BUILD IT, INVENT IT’ has brought to the fore.

Agubata added that the programme is centred around activities of advocacy and service deliver with the aim of creating a platform for inclusivity for females from the secondary school level.

“The first activity the project will engage in is the train the trainer workshop, which will equip 60 engineers to effectively train 200 STEM teachers across the six geopolitical zones and build their capacity to effectively mentor junior secondary school girls in STEM.”

She added that with the training and mentoring, the ‘Invent it, Build it’ challenge will be held for 500 students in 10 secondary schools with engineering kits and prizes presented at the end of the challenge across the country.

“Female students should not rule out engineering. I chose engineering because I loved mathematics and engineering promised real opportunities to change the world. Besides filling critical role of lack of female engineers, women bring a different perspective to the table.

“As important as it is to investigate what deters young women from pursuing these careers, we should take a closer look at encouraging secondary school girls to follow their dreams by introducing them to a broader range of knowledge when developing STEM innovations,” she said.

Meanwhile, the President of APWEN, Mrs. Funmilola Odelade stated that the ‘SHEENGINEER’ Project would serve as a capacity building programme for female engineers and public secondary school girls in basic seven and eight across the six geopolitical zones of Nigeria.

She added that the project is a product of a grant from the Royal Academy of Engineering under the Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) Africa Catalyst Programme to strengthen professional engineering in sub-Saharan Africa.

“The aim of the SHEENGINEER programme is to increase local engineering capacity. APWEN will execute the SHEENGINEER programme by training female engineers and STEM teachers. This will help to promote STEM and ultimately increase the female engineers in sub-Saharan Africa to solve Africa’s problem,” she said.