INWED 2020: APWEN Celebrates Achievements, Calls for Eradication of Gender Stereotype

It featured an online conference that attracted more than 300 delegates.
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Association of Professional Women Engineers of Nigeria (APWEN)

Recently, the Association of Professional Women Engineers of Nigeria (APWEN) joined its counterpart worldwide to mark the maiden edition of the International Women in Engineering Day 2020 (INWED), intended to introduce the contributions of women to the advancement of engineering in society.

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.

The event was attended by Kebbi State Governor Senator Abubakar Bagudu, who was represented by the SSG, Alhaji Umar Babale, Deputy Chief Whip, House of Representatives, among others, Hon. Nkeiruka Onyejeocha, President of the Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE), Babagana Mohammed.

In her remarks, the association 's president, Mrs Funmilola Ojelade, recalled the inauguration of the National Women in Engineering Day in the United Kingdom in 2014 by the Women's Engineering Society (WES); a partnership organization with The Royal Academy of Engineering to commemorate its 95th anniversary, adding that since then it has grown and is now internationally recognized due to interest and interest.

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.

” 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. Equal representation is especially important in engineering, as engineers design products and solve problems that affect humanity. Imagine the greater advances that could occur in engineering if men and women were working consistently together and using all the skill sets in the pool, “she stressed.

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.”

During the panel discussions, participants took time to make cases on the paths towards driving women in engineering to shape the world, while also encouraging more women to embrace the profession.

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.

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