Aside from raising the profile of women in the field of engineering, the program with the theme 'The Role of Women in Shaping the World' also aims to focus attention on the incredible career opportunities available to the girl-child in the field and eliminate the gender stereotypes.
It featured an online conference that attracted more than 300 delegates.
She said the organization had entered into a fruitful relationship with the Royal Academy of Engineering, UK, with its SHEengineer Invent it, Create it project in 2019.
According to her,
“The project was awarded a grant by the Royal Academy under the Global Challenges Research Funds (GCRF) African catalyst programme which is in phase three presently. It is a capacity building programme of APWEN for female engineers. STEM teachers and public secondary school pupils in JSS one and two in the six geo political zones of Nigeria?”
The GCFR catalyst programme, Ojelade noted is designed to strengthen professional engineering bodies in sub-saharan Africa to effectively promote the profession, share best practice and increase local engineering capacity to drive development.
“Our desire to meet the global requirement of promoting diversity , has provided APWEN with the impetus to be the first association to advocate for girl-child STEM education in the country and also among the first few professional engineering institutions in Nigeria to develop a gender and diversity policy to encourage the inclusive growth of members from diverse background, ” she said.
A former President of the association, Dr Felicia Agubata who presented
her consent note as the SHEEnginer ‘Invent It, Build It’, grant awardee
from Royal Academy of Engineering, UK under the GCRF African catalyst
phase three said it came into being after the success of the Invent it,
Built it initiative, sponsored by NNPC under the leadership of former
GMD, Maikanti Baru.
Engineering though being a male-dominated field, she noted that it is imperative to encourage more women to go into it as it will help advance the society positively.
“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. Female students shouldn’t rule out engineering. I chose engineering because I loved mathematics and science, and engineering holds real opportunities to change the world.
Agubata who is the project director, expressed concern that many girls are deterred from entering the STEM workforce due to outdated stereotypes that still exist today and are also made to believe that there is no place for them in the field of engineering.
Given the pervasive nature of such stereotypes, she called on parents and teachers to step in and shield girls from believing that they are less intellectually capable or less suited for STEM.
“Stereotypes can also be challenged by exposing children to examples of women who have succeeded in STEM. Our education system can be redesigned to encourage female students in secondary school by calling on them in class, motivating them, taking their questions seriously and making sure they see the possibilities of STEM careers. There are lesson plans available to address this issue. Introduce policies and incentives for women who want to join a STEM career.”
The programme presented an opportunity for the association to launch its safety kits including a face shield and hand sanitizers to guide against contracting the dreaded Covid-19; as well as social media profiling of some accomplished women in Engineering in Nigeria.