The low numbers of females in science, technology, engineering and math continues to be a challenge and exposing young women to successful role models in the field could be one way of encouraging more women to take up STEM courses in school.
So for the three of Newmont Ghana’s female engineers who have mentored and empowered young ladies at junior and senior high school levels to enroll in science, technology and engineering disciplines, sharing their experiences and engaging with them “certainly sparked up their interest and encouraged scores of them to take up careers in science and engineering”.
These three female engineers enlightened over a thousand female students at the Women in Engineering (WINE) Conference in the Ashanti region, about the vast career opportunities for women in science and engineering fields.
Gertrude Eshun, a Mine Geologist, Elizabeth Hazel, an IT engineer and Mandy Lokko a Processing Engineer shared their academic and professional experiences with the students, correcting their widely-held perceptions that engineering is a preserve of men.
The female engineering trio was joined by other female engineers and officials from the Ghana Navy, Airforce, Electricity Company of Ghana and Tullow Ghana to connect and expose the young ladies to women in male-dominated careers.
The conference is an initiative by the Women in Engineering network of the Ghana Institution of Engineers in collaboration with Newmont Akyem’s Women and Allies Business Resource Group to promote science and engineering careers among girls, in order to narrow the gender gap and increase representation of females in the sector. Based on theme ‘Women in Engineering, There is Room for Everyone,’ the conference held at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology forms part of an ongoing high school outreach programme to create awareness and raise the profile of the science and engineering industry among young ladies.
As part of its Global Inclusion and Diversity Strategy, Newmont is committed to increasing the representation of women in all areas of its mining operation and has established the Women and Allies (W&A) to drive this goal through professional development and by building a more inclusive workplace culture.
After the presentations, the young ladies split up into groups where each group was assigned an engineer to counsel and answer all their questions about pursuing a career in science and engineering. The students opened up about challenges they faced including lack of support from family, stereotypes and perceptions about engineering careers. The female engineers engaged the teaching staff and charged them to offer immense support to girls with interest and potential for science and engineering.
The low numbers of women in science and engineering is a global issue as women are grossly under-represented in the industry.
“The excitement and interest the young ladies showed, especially during the mentoring break-out sessions were extremely encouraging,” Elizabeth Hazel, I.T specialist with Newmont Ghana, said. “Our interactions with them have certainly sparked up their interest and encouraged scores of them to take up careers in science and engineering. For many of them, until today, they had believed engineering was a domain for men.”
Elizabeth believes that more engagement and mentoring of young girls with passion, ability and interest to take up careers in science and engineering are critical to changing the current phenomenon. “Newmont Women and Allies Group encourages more of such interventions to attract, develop and nurture the next generation of women engineers because they are instrumental to reducing the female deficit in the sector.”