Challenges of Being a Woman in STEM and Tips to Overcome Them

As part of PES DAY 2020 activities, Team Nigeria PES DAY ambassadors organized a webinar with the title above. The aim was to bring together women leaders with more than 15 years experience in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) fields to talk about the challenges they face in their places of work and how they are overcoming them. This we believe will aid women around the world facing similar challenges to remain steadfast.

All the Guest Speakers shared their experiences. Against all odds, they were able to succeed and grow to leadership positions in their respective industries. They are:

Moderator: Chinelo Okafor-> PES DAY Ambassador, WIP&WIE, Data Analyst Trainer and Consultant.

Speaker 1: Engr. (Mrs.) Chidimma Ibeh-Dimnwobi -> Chair, IEEE WIE Nigeria, General Manager of Flonex Limited.

Speaker 2: Patience Enahoro -> Vice Chair, IEEE WIE Nigeria, Contractor Services Coordinator, ExxonMobil.

Speaker 3: Dr. Nkeiruka N. Onyia -> Member, IEEE WIE, CEO of Lenke Space and Water Solutions Limited.

Speaker 4: Engr. Felicia Agubata, PhD, FNSE -> IPP, APWEN (Association of professional Women in Nigeria), AGM at Nigeria Airspace Management Agency.

Speaker 5: Mistura Mubi-Tijani, Vice Chair IEEE YP Nigeria, Research Engineer, Digital Pulse Technologies

Challenges Highlighted

  • Lack of support from spouse to continue their Engineering career.
  • Plain old gender discrimination: People look down on your capabilities because you are a woman.
  • Minority dynamics: The fact that women workforce in STEM is about 25% which might not be easy for women to build social connections as it will be easy for men.
  • Racism: against black women in international corporations.
  • Self-defeat: Looking down on yourself because you are a woman.
  • Lack of preparedness towards marriage and childbearing in early careers.

Tips to Overcome These Challenges

  • Have faith in your instincts you will go far.
  • Be bold/Confident, do not allow anyone to intimidate you.
  • Ask yourself the vital questions, what can I do to improve myself, that will push you to self-development.
  • Patiently, learn the system, with time, it will help build your confidence to take up leadership roles.
  • Volunteer towards projects irrespective of no prior knowledge, it will help build your skills.
  • Look out for mentors and try to be one.
  • Be Ok with learning. It can be online learning, reading articles, reaching out to people who are willing to teach you topics in your field.
  • Stay positive and build yourself confidence by listening to inspirational messages, songs, going to conferences, attending webinars, engaging in activities that inspires you.
  • Always seek to add value. Be a problem solver.
  • Build your network and maintain visibility.
  • Make sure your work is being seen and you are getting credit for it.
  • Use your voice to create your space. Do not dwell on the unfavorable situation.
  • Collaborate.
  • Create a work-home balance.

We had our executives who graced the occasion and addressed the participants during the webinar. They are:

Engr. John Oyewole Funso-Adebayo -> IEEE Nigeria, Section Chair

Engr. Isaac Adekanye -> Chair, Power and Energy Society (PES)

Engr. Abdullateef Aliyu -> Secretary, IEEE Nigeria

Bisma Naushad -> Global Lead-PES Day Women in Power

Mercy K. Chelangat -> IEEE PES WiP Lead Region 8

Engr. Oto-Obong J. Effiong -> IEEE Section Ambassador

Engr. Alonge E. Wale -> PES Section Ambassador

Haruna Gana -> YP Chair & PES Ambassador

We had a global participation of audience from United Kingdom, Kenya, Pakistan, and Nigeria.

Free Tutorial for Kids: Kids can Program with Scratch

As an Information Technology (IT) Coach, and IEEE PES Day WiP Ambassador, I thought of ways to create an impact on the community, especially, during COVID-19 lockdown also one of our PES DAY activities is organizing tutorials. So, I decided to engage parents to train their children to program codes while enhancing their knowledge of computers. I initiated the journey by launching “Kids can Program” ~ using Scratch as their first programming language.

Why Scratch? Young age starting from 5 years is encouraged, as Scratch provides user-friendly graphical programming making it easier to learn. Thanks to MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) for providing kids a free programming website.

What is programming? A parent might ask

Programming is the ability to feed a computer with a set of instructions to perform a certain task. This means that your children will learn how to input a set of instructions to a computer and the computer will respond with an output.

The online coding lessons is to show parents that they do not need to be a Computer scientist to teach their children how to code especially while our children are at home. All they need is the willingness to help their children to learn the computer.

What does it take for parents to participate fully in this online computer lesson?

The following are what will be needed:

  • No prior knowledge is required from parents or their children.
  • A computer (Desktop or Laptop or Tablet)
  • An internet connection
  • YouTube channel link
  • Log on to the Scratch website, which is the platform for practical learning.

What will your children learn from the coding lessons?

They will learn the following:

  • How to Program with Scratch
  • How to use a computer to do work
  • How to create fun stuff like Game| Animation (Cartoons) | Stories
  • How to put their mathematics skills to work
  • How to use Google Search to learn the meaning of words
  • How to put their creativity to work.

Chinelo Okafor
PES DAY Ambassador, WIP & WIE
IEEE Nigeria Section