Dr Justina launches Girled Up Initiative to promote girls in STEM

Dr Justina Onumah, a Senior Research Scientist, Science and Technology Policy Research Institute of the CSIR-Ghana, has launched the ‘GirledUp’ Initiative to mentor, inspire and provide resource support to girls in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Education.

She said representation and exposure of the young girls mattered if they were to be seen breaking barriers in the areas of STEM.

‘For girls and women in STEM, the challenge is not pursuance in STEM but persistence in STEM to ensure they don’t give up along the way,’ she said.

With mentorship and guidance, she said GirledUp Ghana would support girls to persist in STEM and become the biggest possibilities of themselves, adding ‘We want to see girls of diversity and technological advancement one day.’

Without providing support systems for girls, Dr Onumah said there was a challenge as the world needed more people in Science and considering the more females across the globe, girls had a critical role to play in it.

She called for
inclusivity to enable boys and girls work together to produce problem-solving initiatives.

Professor Nkechi S. Owoo of the World Bank Development Economics Research Group, Washington DC, called on parents and guardians not to buy toy cars for their sons and dolls for their daughters.

If the country could not bridge the gap between Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education, she said providing equal opportunities right from home to schools for both sex was the first step to achieve that.

‘The idea that when there is a difficult subject, especially in STEM, a girl cannot do it and must leave it for a boy must be scrapped off,’ she advised.

Dr Lucy Agyepong, Dean of Engineering, Academic City University College, said how STEM was taught in basic schools contributed to inability of students to understand or relate to it.

She condemned the impression given about STEM education as an area for males, adding: ‘If one says a woman’s role is in the kitchen, then that’s the more reason they s
hould do STEM because putting oil and other food stuff together to become a whole meal is chemistry.’

While advising girls, she said: ‘Don’t let anybody tell you, you can’t do it. I want to encourage all of you to trust in your ability. When you put in the work, you will get the results. We want to hold your hand to help you in this journey to make you successful than any of us you see here. We are behind you and wish you hundred percent success..’

Ms Zulaiha Dobia Abdullah, Founder of Divaloper, reiterated that getting girls technological toys to start playing games at home could help to trigger their interest in STEM.

She admonished parents to enrol their children in institutions where they could get STEM opportunities to learn coding and robotics among others.

She entreated parents to use social media to enlighten girls at home about opportunities in STEM, adding: ‘Girls, please be bold in your decision, and smart with your books to be of relevance in your community, country, Africa and the world at la

Mrs Larisa Akrofie, Founder of Levers in Heels, admonished girls to do research about the fields they were interested in and have role models they could relate to.

She said research had shown that girls who attended single sex schools were more confident than those who attended unisex schools, a situation that called for attention.

‘Many girls have low self esteem due to society and so teachers and parents need to come together to bring out their confidence and offer them similar opportunities given to boys to enable them excel,’ she added.

Mr Chris Coons, a Senator from Delaware, USA, in a recorded video, commended Dr Onumah for the initiative and encouraged the Initiative to be strong and build mentorship networks for girls to dream big, adding that GirledUp Ghana had what it took to change the lives of girls in Ghana.

The initiative was launched with support from the Mandela Washington Fellowship Reciprocal Exchange Programme.

Source: Ghana News Agency