Professor Aba Bentil Andam, the first Ghanaian female Physicist, has said policy makers, teachers and parents must take practical action to raise the interest of females in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Education (STEM).
She said globalisation had made scientific and technological literacy indispensable, therefore, leaving STEM in the hands of men and a few women could not get the country the desired scientific and technological-led economic growth.
Prof. Andam made the call at a short ceremony, organised by African Institute for Mathematical Sciences (AIMS) Ghana, to commemorate this year’s International Women’s Day at Cape Coast.
The global theme for the celebration is, “Planet 50-50 by 2030: Step it up for Gender Equality”, while AIMS selected, “Women in Development in Ghana; Prospects for Advancement in the 21st Century”, as its theme.
This year’s celebration also comes on the heels of the first International Day for Women and Girls in Science, which was held on Thursday, February 11.
Prof. Andam said:“It is estimated that the developing countries of Africa need at least 2,000 scientists per one million in population for effective industrial development.
“If this critical mass of scientific personnel is to be assembled with the relevant supporting technical personnel, no country can afford to leave 50 per cent of its population out of scientific, technological, mathematics and development education.”
She said the female representation in Pure and Applied Science Courses in Ghanaian universities ranged from one per cent to 22 per cent in some Departments.
Prof. Andam advised the public to do away with socio-cultural factors and all forms of discrimination that inhibited the participation of girls in Science and Technology.
She advised parents and teachers to encourage female students to take up careers in Science, explaining that Science Education was a good investment, which must be encouraged.
Mr. Kwame Atsiavor, the Chief Operations Officer of AIMS, stated that the adoption of an International Day for Women and Girls in Science demonstrated the global recognition of the critical roles women played in revealing the power of Mathematics, Technology and Science.
He said AIMS was much more concerned about gender parity that was why last year it launched the initiative dubbed, “AIMS Women in STEM”, to close the gender gap.
Mr. Atsiavor explained that the initiative was aimed at developing and endorsing a Pan-African agenda for promoting women in STEM in Africa with the goal of increasing coordination for women in STEM across the continent.
He said AIMS, over the past years, had trained 960 scientists from 42 African countries, out of which 31 per cent were women.
Mr Atsiavor said these women were contributing immensely to solving the problems in the Farming, Fishing, Education, Health and other sectors of the local and regional economies across Africa.
Mrs. Thywill Eyra Kpe, the Central Regional Director of the Department of Gender, said the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection was undertaking a Gender Technology project dubbed: “ Where are the Girls?” to whip up interest of young girls in Mathematics and Science and urged the girls present to participate in it.