STEM education Part 3: A powerful tool for women
With it’s potential to have a significant influence on the development of a more equal society, pursuing a STEM career in the digital age provides real possibilities for women across the world. The condescension and dismissiveness with which women have been treated in these subjects has never stopped women from making an impact: Marie Curie, one of only four people to win multiple Nobel prizes; Ada Lovelace, considered the first-ever computer programmer; and Rachel Carson, who revolutionized the environmental movement with her seminal work Silent Spring, are just a handful of examples of women who have changed our understanding of the world we live in, despite having to traverse the difficult terrain of traditionally male-dominated professions.
These pioneers, and all other women fighting against a negative stereotype, are examples of the difference women can make in the STEM space in the future. They also highlight the huge untapped potential of women who have been dissuaded from STEM careers in the past. “Girls who have more exposure to science and technology are given a more well-rounded experience,” according to Colleen Smith, vice president and general manager of OpenEdge at Progress (https://www.progress.com/openedge). “And it helps to immediately dismiss the society-generated notion that some activities are better suited for one gender over the other.” The STEM industries will continue to be the key driving force in human civilization and the global economy. Following a path into these industries is a critical component of accelerating the pace at which the global community can achieve gender equality.
Following in the footsteps of environmental pioneer Rachel Carson is the inspirational Elvire Djiongo. Elvire is an engineer of water, forestry, and hunting, and in 2007 she was the first female teacher at the School of Garoua Wildlife in North Cameroon. Having gained a scholarship through The Spark of Hope Foundation, her current pursuit of a doctorate in forest sciences comes from her passion for fighting climate change and her ambition to be a positive role model and flag bearer for women in science. She is one of thousands of women across the globe showing both the value of women in STEM fields, and how wasteful the prejudice against women has been to society’s overall progress.
By Dominic Smith