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Stakeholders seek more female scientists to promote STEM

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Stakeholders at the second edition of Tech Girls Club in Ibadan on Friday emphasised the need for more female scientists in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) to contribute to national development.

The stakeholders, who spoke at a conference on ‘Raising the Next Generation of African Female Scientists,’ stressed the need to provide support for female students.

The Nigerian News Agency reports that the conference was organised by Tech Girls Club in collaboration with Success Waymarks Foundation.

In her address at the opening of the conference, Prof. Olanike Adeyemo, Deputy Vice Chancellor, University of Ibadan, urged women to be self motivated and discover their passion to excel in their chosen careers.

She noted that it was important to read wide as well as improve on interpersonal relationships and skills sets.

Adeyemo stated that females in science should have the right mindset and attitude and not seek for standards to be lowered for them in the pursuit of their careers.

The DVC said it was good to know one’s weakness and strength so as to work on them to be better.

“At every stage, you have to keep evaluating and prioritising as well as determining what is important to you; what is important to your family, your mental health and physical wellbeing.

“What works for me will not work for you.

“Most of the time, where you are now are the functions of choices you made yesterday and the choice you make today determines where you will be tomorrow,” Adeyemo said.

In an interview, Dr Aderonke Sakpere, the founder of Tech Girls Club, said the club was formed to address the dearth of female scientists with a view to providing support for them.

“I have been a lecturer at the University of Ibadan for nine years and I observed that after their first degree, many of our female students discontinued in their disciplines.

“Even in school while on campus, many of the female students struggled, they feel like is there a place for me in this profession, do I actually fit in? So that is why I started the club in the first instance last year.

“But this second edition, we want to see how we can raise the next generation of female scientists based on what I have observed which is that people either drop out of school or they are unable to sustain their interest along the course,” Sakpere said.

Sakpere, a lecturer at the Faculty of Technology, further noted that females have distinct features that could enable STEM to improve and also grow the technology economy of Nigeria.

“Females have a nature that distinguished them and we want to have more female scientists to be able to deploy their unique distinct features in enhancing technological innovations.

“Software applications need to be friendlier and user appealing not just about its functionality; this underscores the need for more female scientists in Nigeria,” she said.

Also speaking, Dr Grace Oluwadebi, a lecturer at the Osun State University and Coordinator of Success Waymarks Foundation, said there is a lower population of female researchers.

She noted that only 22 per cent of graduates of Nigerian universities are females in the sciences.

“With the look of things in Nigeria, we have a long way to go because if you look at research in science related fields in an article published in 2008, we just have about 1500 publications from female scientists.

“From 2008 to 2017 it rose to 4000 articles but there is still much to be done and much of these are in the health and environmental occupations.

“This is still much backwards in STEM considering the population of researchers that are females in our universities,” she said.

Oluwadebi said the rationale behind the conference was to help females to grow their passion to pursue their studies further in academia or in a related science or technology course.

NAN reports that the conference featured breakaway sessions and panel discussion on raising the next generation of African female scientists.

(Edited by: Mufutau Ojo)

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