By Ngozi Anosike
Women and Girls are systematically tracked away from science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) throughout their education, limiting their access, preparation and opportunities to go into these fields.
Against this backdrop, the Executive Director of Mother of Good Council Initiative (MOGCI), Lady Doris Onyeneke has called on governments, parents, teachers, activists and the private sector to increase their efforts in making the digital world safer, more inclusive and more equitable.
She dropped the hint in her address to mark this year’s International Women’s Day celebration.
She noted that changing policies and practices to increase opportunities in STEM for girls and women could stop girls from shying away from mathematics and science, and make these fields more welcoming for women.
She informed that women make up only 28% of the workforce in STEM, while men vastly out number them in these fields stressing that the gender gaps are particularly high in some of the fastest-growing and highest-paid jobs due to gender stereotypes.
” STEM fields are often viewed as masculine, and teachers and parents often underestimate girls’ abilities to delve into them especially as there are fewer role models to inspire girls’ interest in these fields.
This persistent gender gap in digital access prevents women from unlocking technology’s full potential. Their underrepresentation in STEM education and careers remains a major barrier to their participation in technological designs and participation in governance, education and economic opportunities” she stated.
She also identified pervasive threat of online gender-based violence and lack of legal recourse as responsible for low women participation in the digital space.
She however expressed hope that the digital technology which is opening new doors for the global empowerment of women,and girls such as tech-facilitated sexual and reproductive healthcare, would provide opportunity to eliminate all forms of disparity and inequality.
The Executive Director of MOGCI maintained this year’s theme is about taking proactive steps to promote fairness and inclusion for all individuals regardless of their backgrounds, identities or circumstances.
She further said that it involves identifying and addressing systematic barriers that prevent certain groups from fully participating and succeeding in various areas of life, such as education, employment, politics and health.
Wishing Women a successful International Women’s Day celebration, she stressed the need to celebrate the progress that has been made in ensuring that women are empowered and have equal opportunities in the digital age while bridging the confidence gap and closing the STEM gap by giving girls and women the skills and confidence to succeed in Stem courses