May 20, 2019

UN International Day for Women and Girls in Sciences

At the just ended UN International Day for Women and Girls in Sciences which was marked at the University of Ghana, it was revealed that Ghana has only 7% Women in Engineering Professions. This was by Women in Engineering (WINE), an organization of women professionals in energy, mining and engineering careers, who bemoaned the poor representation of women in engineering.

Mrs. Enyonam Kpekpena, a member of the organization and an IT projects coordinator at the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) noted that, “currently there are only 7% of women in engineering.” In the specific instance of ECG Mrs. Kpekpena noted that women make up 6.3% of the entire engineering staff at ECG.

The issue has been intensified in the enrollment figures for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) courses in the tertiary institutions.

According to Prof Daniel Asiedu (provost of Basic and Applied Science at the University of Ghana) enrollment into the College of Basic and Applied Sciences for the 2018 academic year was 39% female out of 240 applicants.

He added that apart from Family and Consumer Science (93% female enrollment) and Biological Sciences (51%) all the other course offered at the college recorded less than 30% enrolment. “The lowest was Information Technology 19% followed by Mathematics 24%.”

“The low representation of women and girls in science, technology, engineering and mathematics is related to attitude rather than ability,” Prof Asiedu said.

As the United Nations commemorates the International Day for Women and Girls in Sciences, the abysmal representation of women and girls in science related occupations especially in engineering has become topical.

The theme for this year’s celebration “Investing in Women & Girls in Science for Inclusive Green Growth” brought the statistics of the widening gender gap to life; it gives a human dimension to the statistics of low feminine representation in Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) fields.

Studies have shown that in problem solving endeavours, group more diversity come up with quality and more efficient results.

Hon. Patricia Appiagyei, deputy minister for Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation, noted that women and girls “represent untapped human capital that if leveraged could enhance the STEM workforce” in renewable energy and waste management.

The minister used the occasion to list the investments of government of Ghana to encourage women and girls in science.

According to the minister, some strategies government has deployed included the launch of Presidential Advisory Council on STI (Science, Technology and Innovation) on which three eminent female scientist currently serve; the Free Senior High School and launch and Innovation and Research Commercialization Center.

However in all these initiative the issue at the primary and secondary level seem dire. The director of Science at the Ghana Education Service (GES) revealed that lack of science teachers, science laboratories and science equipment remains the major issues hampering teaching and learning of STEM course particularly in rural areas. He stated that there was a shortage of physic teachers in the second cycle education.

 

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