According to the United Nations (UN), in the fourth industrial revolution, women still have less than two-third of the economic opportunity than men. The jobs of the future will be driven by technology and innovation, and if the gender divide in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) is not bridged soon, the overall gender gap is likely to widen.
The University of Johannesburg (UJ), in collaboration with TechnoGirl Trust, unveiled the ‘Young Women for STEM in Africa’ platform – UJ’s newest initiative on Thursday, 04 July 2019 at the Auckland Park Kingsway Campus as part of this year’s Winter School. Reimagined and the upcoming Women’s day celebration in August.
inspire, motivate and fascinate : UJ’s STEM Education Programme prepares future leaders for technology-driven careers
Dr Tebogo Mashifana, UJ’s graduate that recently featured in the 2019 Mail & Guardian Top 200 YOUNG South Africans list, gave a keynote address and inspired young girls pointing out that she believes that the next generation of female engineers has an important role to play in using their creative and team skills to change perceptions of the industry. “I see future leaders when I see you, especially in the 4IR space. There is a need for females to be in STEM fields as these subjects are not difficult”.
TechnoGirl Trust, in partnership with the Department of Basic Education and UNICEF, established the TechnoGirl job shadowing programme in 2004 to specifically address the gender gap in STEM careers. This initiative identifies high school girls between the ages of 15 and 18 who are from disadvantaged communities, and who are interested in STEM careers.
“In collaborating with TechnoGirl Trust, this year’s #WinterSchool4IR is continuing our forward-thinking, pioneering groundwork that demonstrates how UJ is again showing leadership in innovative ways of contributing to the future of jobs,” said Liana Meadon, Senior Manager: Academic Development Centre.
This new UJ initiative is the brainchild of Prof Angina Parekh, the Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Academic, to close the gender gap in STEM fields and to get young women excited about career opportunities that they might not have considered previously.
Core to the institution’s mission to bring quality, approachable, hands-on STEM learning tools to every student, the STEM emersion day is an unique and first-of-its-kind innovative event accompanied by a curriculum that will focus on increasing gender diversity awareness for 36 Grade 11 and 12 young women from and around the city of Johannesburg.
“We, as an Institution of Higher Education, have implemented various interventions that directly speak to research findings and we have set ambitious targets in increasing the participation of women in STEM. However, this challenge is a societal one and needs all South Africans to pull together in encouraging and supporting women for careers in science, technology, engineering, maths and above all, innovation,” explained Ms Meadon.
“UJ is excited and honoured to have hosted these young women, the main idea of the ‘Young Women for STEM in Africa Day’ was to inspire, motivate and fascinate the selected group of VIPs to learn more about 4IR.”
The Programme was inclusive of the following:
- A workshop from Technolab where the young women will learn basic programming, basic circuits, and how to navigate a robot through a maze
- A virtual reality experience on Doornfontein Campus (DFC)
- A meet and greet opportunity with female STEM academics and UJ students currently studying towards careers in STEM
- A participation certificate