Stakeholders at the 2021 International Day of Women and Girls in Science have underscored the roles of parents and teachers in increasing the quota of women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM).
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the theme of the virtual conference held on Sunday was “A Home Is a Catalyst For Girls To Flourish In Science’’.
Seventeen-year-old Victory Yinka-Banjo, one of the panelists and Ambassador for the Technovation Girls International Coding Community and App Developer, said it was important for girls to discover themselves and identify their passions early in life.
“I like discovering things, I love solving things and learning new things.
“Knowledge is never wasted, I think knowledge is power. Thinking about science, it never stops when it comes to knowledge or knowing things.
“As a scientist, you can always contribute to the body of knowledge and there are so much to know so why not know and be part of the people who are making us to know,” said Yinka-Banjo, a student.
The teen public speaker said teachers have the power to inspire their students and push them up.
“I became very interested in computer science and one of the reasons my team and I were able to go that far was because we had a mentor who was our teacher in school that was always encouraging us and telling us we can do it.
“If girls aren’t attaining their potentials it might be because they are surrounded with the wrong people. So, I try to be there for other girls. It is necessary to have a role model and look up to the right people,” she said.
Yinka-Banjo, who is also an ambassador for South African Airways, urged other kids to show empathy and not to allow their parents labour to be in vain.
Dr. Chika Yinka-Banjo, Victory’s mother, urged parents not to compare children and to be their children’s number one fan.
“I don’t compare any child with another child. Know your child and what she wants and help her achieve it. Be the biggest fan of your child,’’ she said.
Speaking on her child’s success, Dr. Yinka-Banjo, the head of AI & Robotics Laboratory at the University of Lagos, said parents needed to make wise choices regarding their wards education and to deliberate propel them in the right direction.
“Children need to discover themselves, what they are cut out for and good at so as not to struggle in life,’’ she said.
Also, Dr. Grace Oluwadebi of Success Waymarks Foundation and one of the conveners of the event, said the aim was to promote full and equal participation in science for women and girls.
“If you will all agree with me, young girls easily feel insecure and feel like they cannot do courses in STEM, some of these subjects are for males.
“But thanks to initiatives and organisations like ours that are trying to erase this mindset of young people and inspiring them that they have the potential to do it.
“Nevertheless, it doesn’t mean that all the young people will be scientists, you just have to understand your children as they are growing up.
“Most children show the traits of what they would become in life as they grow up and so parents should learn to see the signs,’’ she said.
Dr. Ronke Sakpere, the founder TECH Girls Club and a co-organizer of the event, urged participants to take their relationship and network seriously.
“Collaboration is key to achieve greater things. TECH Girls Club, Success Waymark and American Corner reach out to people of like minds.
“Pursuing a career in STEM should be what anyone should be interested in and should go all out for and let no barrier stop them,” Sakpere said.
Also, Mrs. Stephanie Adesanya, Director, American Corner, US Consulate Lagos, said the quota of women in STEM was improving but a lot more needed to propel more girls into STEM careers.
“Around the world, there is an underrepresentation of women in science and technology-related careers and so in the past, there were very few women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) jobs.