BY DAYO ADESULU
Ibadan––U.S. government exchange alumni are at the forefront of promoting STEM education and implementing programs to encourage Nigerian women and girls to pursue studies and careers in tech fields.
Alumni of the 2021 U.S. government-sponsored TechWomen program on Monday concluded a STEM mentoring program called, “EduChamps” for 30 adolescent girls from African Church Grammar School, Ibadan.
Supported by the U.S. government, the program provided mentorship and skills training for girls to explore careers and business opportunities in STEM.
Speaking at the closing ceremony of the program, U.S. Consulate Deputy Public Affairs Officer Jennifer Foltz said it was imperative for young girls to have access to mentors from a range of fields who can help them gain skills and boost their confidence to consider higher education and careers in STEM.
She noted that “EduChamps” is one of the U.S. government’s initiatives to engage underserved communities, ensure gender parity, and provide women and girls with opportunities to contribute to creating sustainable and inclusive economic prosperity.
“STEM education is the key foundation for any country’s economic success,” Foltz said. “We are excited to support this initiative that serves as an inspiration for young girls to consider STEM subjects in their future careers in order to solve global challenges.”
Damilola Asaleye, a TechWomen Fellow, said drawing more girls into tech will help close the gender gap in the STEM fields. “With EduChamps, we are taking action to improve inclusiveness and narrow the gender gap in the STEM field,” she added.
Through the “EduChamps” initiative, the TechWomen fellows provided career counselling to the high school girls focusing on opportunities in the technology sector such as upcycling, automotive engineering, renewable energy, sustainable agriculture and space science.
The students also received educational supplies such as school bags, school uniforms, textbooks, exercise books, writing materials and sanitary pads to encourage them to stay in school.
More broadly, the United States has invested millions of dollars to directly advance gender equality across sub-Saharan Africa, through activities that promote opportunities for women, access to health and education services, and efforts to prevent and respond to gender-based violence.
In 2011, the U.S. government introduced the TechWomen program to empower the next generation of women leaders in the technology field. This exchange program brings together women in Northern California with their counterparts in the Middle East, Central Asia, North Africa, and sub-Saharan Africa, including Nigeria, for a professional mentorship at leading technology companies in the United States.