The Managing Director of the Nigerian Security Printing & Minting Plc, Mr. Abbas Umar Masanawa, has said some cultural, gender prejudices and stereotypes are the key factors scaring girls and women from taking the science and technology pathway.
At a virtual inauguration of the Katsina State chapter of Association of Professional Women Engineers of Nigeria (APWEN), he called for coordinated efforts to change the under-representation of women in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) space, stressing the need to catch the girls young.
Citing a UNESCO report, Masanawa said, “Only 12% of the global engineering workforce is female; 30% of sub-Saharan tech workforce are women; 30% of all science researchers in the world are women and 6% of top 100 tech companies have women as CEOs”.
He however said it is estimated that 90% of future jobs will require skills in Information and Communication Technology (ICT), but with half of the population underrepresented in the STEM space, that leaves a whole bunch of talent untapped.
“Increasing the representation of women and girls in STEM is therefore not only a national imperative but a global one,” he said.
Some of the challenges women face on this path include cultural and gender prejudices, stereotyping, lack of opportunity, lack of encouragement, among others.
“Many women who graduated in STEM do not go on to pursue STEM careers compared to men. Changing the narrative therefore, requires a range of shifts in mind-set and, in some cases, culture,” he added.
To change the trend, he called for numerous advocacy activities at the local and state levels to promote the critical role of women and girls in STEM.