Winners have emerged at the SheEngineer family fun competition, organised by the Association of Professional Women in Engineering (APWEN).
The competition, held virtually recently, was designed for families to explore their creativity, bond and understand the science behind their daily activities, as well as learn about amazing career opportunities that abound in engineering.
For their balloon car project, Mrs. Deborah Maiwada’s family came first and received a cash prize of N250,000.
The second position went to Mrs. Bilikisu Danjuma’s family, which got N150,000, while Dr. Adebisi Osim’s family came third and got N100,000.
The competition, judged based on team work, creativity and workability, also saw other participating families work on candy arts, ballon car and blow up ballon with lemon juice projects. They got consolation prizes for their efforts.
Speaking during the family fun workshop tagged ‘Why Engineering Should be a Woman’s Game’, preceding the competition, the President of APWEN, Mrs. Funmilola Ojelade, said the association is out to encourage girls to enter and stay in STEM careers through engineering projects.
In her remarks, the Project Director and grant awardee SheEngineer Invent It, Build It under GCRF Africa Catalyst Project Phase 3, Dr. Felicia Agubata, said engineering seems to be a male dominated profession, but when it comes to studying STEM subjects at school, male and female are virtually at par in terms of performance.
“Unfortunately, this parity doesn’t always carry over into the professional world thus leading to a significant gender gap in the science and technology workforce,” she said, adding that females shouldn’t just rule out engineering as they are able to bring game-changing perspectives to the table.
“I chose engineering because I loved mathematics and science, and engineering holds real opportunities to change the world. We make everything from bridges to engines, IT systems to cosmetics. Besides, I think women bring critical insights and game-changing perspectives to the table.”
Agubata, a former president of the association, said it is imperative to encourage secondary school girls to follow their dreams and flairs with regards to the sciences and also introduce to them a broader range of knowledge and ideas when developing STEM innovations, adding that this will help them overcome perceived gender role barriers.
She said the family fun workshop is to, among others, encourage girls to start young considering the pervasive nature of stereotypes, adding that parents and teachers should step in and guide them from believing that they are less intellectually capable and therefore less suited for STEM.
The project director called on the government, philanthropists and corporate organisations to assist the association in producing female engineers, saying, “the task of nation building requires the selflessness of all and SheEngineer is a call to closing the gender gap in STEM.”
In her keynote, pthe Programme Leader, Postgraduate degree of Quality and Project Management, University of West Scotland, Dr. Eni Viva recalled how she grew up in Greece with a perception that engineering is not a career for women, adding that her institution is trying to change the perception.
“Engineering is still considered as not a career for women. We are trying to work to change this perception that women can do it. If you can solve problems and believe in yourself, you can do it as a female,” she said.