Resolving Africa’s Gender Bias in STEM: YaaW’s Approach
“Black Women and Black girls in STEM are phenomenal! They’re intelligent, fearless, resilient and unstoppable. They exude confidence, strength, determination, and excellence. Accept it…...Black females in STEM rock! “
“When I was young, I was very interested in science and technology, and my dad brought home the first computer. I played pac man and I was hooked! By learning to create technology, girls learn to speak up”
The two quotes above were cited by two distinguished black women who were alarmed about the gender-bias experienced by black women in STEM(Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics). The first quote was cited by Stephanie Lahart who is an author, a poet, youth motivational speaker for at-risk teens, teen mentor and fearless entrepreneur while the second quote was cited by Regina Agyare who is a Ghanaian social Entrepreneur, software developer and founder of Soronko solutions. The two quotes cited by these two black women tell the whole story of how hard it is to meet a black woman in STEM encouraged by the society.
According to the UNESCO statistics, women in the tech industry constitute only 28% of the professionals in the sector world-wide, and just 30% in Sub-Saharan Africa. These statistics reveal how poor the percentage of women to men is as it is expected that the remaining 72% worldwide and the remaining 70% in Sub-Saharan Africa are men. But the question is where are all the other women who could have made the statistics better? It is widely believed in most parts of the Sub-Saharan Africa that the place of women in society are:
1. The home (responsible for basic household chores such as cooking, cleaning, taking care of the children).
2. The farm (weeding, crop harvesting and planting).
3. Jobs (Casual underpaid labors).
These are some of the examples of where the African society expects women to be found.
‘When you educate a woman, you educate the whole nation’, ‘Fuel her fire and she will soar.’ These are some of the proverbs that reveal the purpose of YaaW. YaaW(Yielding Accomplished African Women) is West Africa’s first technology and finance talent accelerator which aims at erecting and cultivating the largest community of African female developers and financial analysts who are passionate about using STEM to revolutionize Africa and Beyond.
What is YaaW’s approach to resolving the gender-bias in STEM in Africa?
YaaW gives African women not only qualitative but also quantitative skills required by these women to succeed in the global STEM market while formulating a gender-specific professional toolkit. While in an interview, Diana Wilson the founder of YaaW said ‘…My research led me to conclude that there is one main factor that is depriving the world of $28trillion dollars in economy……This factor is economic empowerment for women. According to the McKinsey Global Institute, if women had the opportunity in the economy equally as men, this could happen in just 7 years’, those figures are really mind-blowing. It is vivid from her research and the statements she made that the only thing that could help reduce gender-bias in STEM is more YaaW’s across different countries in Africa.