An awe-inspiring United Nation’s International Day for Women and Girls in Science celebration was held at the Law Faculty, University of Ghana Legon (UG) by the National Society of Black Engineers on Tuesday, 12th February, 2019.
The event was organised by the National Society for Black Engineers (NSBE) Ghana in collaboration with the STMIE unit of the Ghana Education service Greater Accra with support from the UNESCO Office in Accra and College of Basic and Applied Sciences, University of Ghana Legon Accra.
The fourth time NSBE is organizing such a celebration in Ghana-2016 – All Nations University, Koforidua, 2017 – Ghana Technology University College, Tesano, Accra, 2018 – Soronko Academy, East Legon – the event brought together female students drawn from 8 selected second cycle schools in the capital, participants from the academia, UG, Corporate Ghana.
The schools were made up of Labone SHS, Nungua SHS, Presec La, Presec Teshie, Kinbu SHTS, Ashiaman SHS, Teshie Presbyterian SHS, Accra high School, African Science Academy, ST. Margaret May SHTS, Accra Technical Univeristy, Achimota School, Akporman Model Basic School, and O’Reilly SHS.
Welcoming the gathering, the Provost of the College of Basic and Applied Science Prof. Daniel Asiedu highlighted the importance of this year’s celebration, while noting the exploits of women and girls in the sciences.
Under the theme ‘Investment in Women and Girls in Science for inclusive Green Growth,’ resource persons spanning various spectrums of life and fields shared their experiences with their younger generation.
Hosting a panel discussion, celebrated Ghanaian biomedical engineer and National Maths and Science Quiz mistress Dr. Elsie Effah Kaufmann and her guests discussed the inherent importance of investing in women and girls in science while fielding questions from their excited audience.
On a day set aside by the UN to celebrate women and girls, the speakers on the day made up of Dr. Enyonam Kpekpena (WINE GHIE & ECG), the Deputy Minister of Education (MESTI), Hon. Mrs. Patricia Appiagyei (MP), Mrs. Ama Serwah Nerquaye-Tetteh, UNESCO Ag. Secretary-General, Mrs Efua Ababie, Director, African Science Academy, Dr Yvonne S. A. Loh, Earth Science Department, University of Ghana, Legon and Ms. Cordie Aziz, Executive Director, Environment 360 Ghana brought their experiences to bear on the theme for the occasion.
The chairperson for the historical event, Dr. Yvonne S.A. Loh, a hydrologist and senior lecturer at the Department of Earth Science of the University of Ghana encouraged the audience to take science education seriously.
The audience was exited to hear about the various initiatives corporate Ghana has embarked on to encourage women and girls in science. A representative of the Petroleum Commission briefed the gathering about his organisations focus to invest in the sciences. There were further solidarity messages by All Nations University College, Unilever Ghana and the Ghana National Association of Teachers (GNAT).
The coordinator of STME, Greater Accra Region Madam Betty Buah could not hide her joy at the turn of events.
“We can say it has been a success,” she said adding that, “this year we thought about expanding it from the district level to the regional level. We thought about engaging corporate Ghana and the university. The children have come into contact with the players in the field. They have now seen the opportunities available in the field in terms of training and sponsorships.”
In an interview with the media after the event National Maths and Science Quiz mistress Dr. Elsie Effah Kaufmann expressed her delight at the celebrations, adding that there has been a lot of improvements over the last event.
“There is a whole lot more support I see. So participation is much greater. Last year, we held it at Soronko Academy and this year we had it at the University of Ghana Legon. In terms of scale, it is a lot bigger. In terms of impact, it can be a lot bigger with follow ups after the celebrations.
“I know NSBE has been supporting us to do it. Billy James has done a lot already. I’m hoping that with a bigger group like this involving University lecturers and volunteers, it can only get better.”
Asked about her opinion on the participation of women and girls generally in science education in Ghana, Dr. Kaufmann said: “At the basic school and even junior high schools, girls are doing well. When you look at the STEM clinics they even add the boys now. We are doing well at the lower levels. When we get to the senior high schools and the universities that is what they call the leaky pipe lines. And when you come to the professions the numbers keeps getting lower. When you take the profiles of lecturers, it gets smaller as you go up the ladder. It is something that is happening on the pipe line and that is still there.”
On a day set aside to celebrate women and girls in science, she admitted there is still more to be done to bridge the gap between females in the male dominated field of science.
“There are a whole lots of issues at play here. First of all, if you go to an environment and there is a certain culture there it is difficult to break it. So typically these places have been male dominated. There might be one or two females. To get a critical mass to make it seem like a welcome place is another matter.”
Meanwhile, the Coordinator of the National Society of Black Engineers Mr. Billy James Dega expressed his appreciation to the participants for taking part in the celebrations noting the importance of the occasion to women and girls in science.
“Empowering African Women especially, is the most effective force for transformation on our continent, while encouraging them to think big, and follow their passion to thrive for greatness,”, he added. “We look forward to an even bigger event hopefully, next year 2020.