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BIPOC Female Representation in STEM

Breaking the biases, ethnic, and traditional norms around girls and women in STEM education is a paramount issue that must be addressed if we are to see a significant statistical change of BIPOC females in STEM. There are numerous ways to achieve this, including promoting men’s involvement, women’s advocacy, and women’s empowerment through STEM careers.

Men’s Involvement: Promoting men’s involvement in STEM education and careers can help break gender stereotypes and biases. Men can be advocates for women in STEM and help to create a more inclusive and supportive environment. Men can encourage girls and women to pursue STEM education and careers and serve as role models for young women in these fields and gate keepers to deter some of the off-putting antics that deter girls and women from pursuing STEM.

I recently discussed on my podcast, InTouch Think STEAM Careers, the aforementioned strategy with Mrs. Nkiru the founder and executive director of Flourishing Life International Foundation in Nigeria, West Africa. Flourishing Life International Foundation believes in inclusiveness regarding women's empowerment. Mrs. Nkiru shares, empowering women in STEM education is something women do with others in a country like Nigeria. Both she and her team have collaborated with the traditional rulers such as the king of her village and elders to get the men to buy in and support women's empowerment through STEM in Nigeria. This is a poignant example of men’s involvement in promoting and supporting STEM amongst girls and women.

Women’s Advocacy: One of the most significant barriers to girls' participation in STEM fields is the lack of representation and visibility of BIPOC women in these fields. When girls do not see women in STEM careers, they are left with the notion that these fields are not suitable for them, and subconsciously reinforces discrimination and biases from peers and educators who hold outdated gender stereotypes as it relates to women in STEM. BIPOC women who have succeeded in STEM should consciously share their experiences to inspire others and actively provide support and mentorship for women interested in pursuing STEM careers. By being visible and vocal about their achievements in STEM fields, women can help break down these barriers and inspire the next generation of girls to pursue their dreams. Moreover, women’s advocacy groups can also advocate for policies that promote gender equality in STEM, such as equal pay and promotion opportunities or increasing access to STEM education and career opportunities for girls and women. Women’s advocacy whether as an individual, group, or professional network is essential in breaking gender biases and norms to sustain women’s involvement and empowerment in and through STEM.

To this affect Ms. Nkiru shared, that the Nigerian King’s daughter is currently pursuing a STEM degree and is a STEM advocate in her community. Other women in the community are also sharing with their friends and family members about the mission and vision of Flourishing Life International Foundation as well as the various programs and initiatives offered to increase awareness and participation. Ms. Nkiru shared, that all their initiatives and projects are centered around community involvement, because community is key to promotion, participation, and effectiveness.

Women’s Empowerment Through STEM: Empowering women through STEM careers can give them the tools and resources needed to succeed. This can include programs that provide STEM education and training for girls and women interested in STEM or support and mentorship programs specifically designed to address challenges that primarily effect women and girls in STEM education and careers. Empowering women through STEM careers can help break traditional gender norms and biases and create a more inclusive and diverse STEM workforce.

To this point Mrs. Nkiru shared that Flourishing Life International Foundation since their inception has provided workshops and trainings through their symposium on Women's International Day. Mrs. Nkiru and her team are a fitting example of women’s empowerment through STEM and how that empowerment can be effectively shared with others.

In conclusion, breaking down biases, ethnic, and traditional norms surrounding girls and women in STEM requires a multifaceted approached that includes men’s involvement, women’s advocacy, and a focus on women empowerment through STEM careers. By working together, we can create a more inclusive and supportive environment that promotes gender equality and equality employment opportunities for everyone.

Authored by Dr. Ayo Olufade, Ph.D.

Think STEM Careers! You Have the Opportunity to Create the Future and the Privilege of Deciding What’s in It! ~ Dr. Ayo Olufade, PhD

Excel in Learning. Excel in Life.

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