March 9, 2023

Bridging the Gender Gap in STEM: AIMS’ Researchers Inspiring Young Girls in Rwanda.

The gender gap in STEM fields has been a persistent issue for many years. Despite progress being made, the number of women making up the workforce in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) is still low. The United Nations has recognized this problem and organizations like the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences (AIMS) are tackling it through various programs and initiatives. 

In April 2022, AIMS’ research department conducted its first outreach activity for young girls. They visited four secondary schools in two districts, reaching 294 school girls. The objective was to promote STEM by providing a platform for young girls to learn about the importance of STEM and possible STEM careers. The program was a success, inspiring young girls to pursue STEM fields and the AIMS team wanted to continue the momentum. 

Fast forward to 2023, and AIMS’ research team conducted a week-long STEM outreach activity to over 10 schools across Rwanda, including Nyamasheke, Rwamagana, Rulindo, and more. Led by AIMS’ postdoctoral fellow in climate, Vicky Kondi, and guest speakers Dr Jennifer Batamuliza, Dr Eva Lilliane Ujeneza, and Munezero Immaculee, the team aimed to ignite young girls’ passion for science, technology, engineering, and math. 

Their first stop was at ISF Nyamasheke and G.S St. Joseph de Nyamasheke. Vicky and Munezero Immaculee addressed the students, sharing their STEM journeys, and inspiring the next generation of scientists. The girls were encouraged to pursue STEM careers, and the AIMS team was happy to see them respond positively. 

One of the highlights of the program was a poetry recital from G.S St. Joseph de Nyamasheke. The poem read, “See better from bitter, science is not only for boys, the target is to always be on the peak, evaporation of all fear made us good scientists.” The poem resonated with the AIMS team, and they were proud to witness the girls’ commitment to STEM. 

On day three of the program, the team visited the Institute of Women for Excellence and GS Rwamagana Protestant Secondary School in Rwamagana district. Guest speakers Jolly Batamuliza, Eva Lilliane Ujeneza, and Munezero Immaculee shared their experiences with the girls, highlighting the importance of a gendered lens in STEM. The girls were thrilled to hear from women who had excelled in STEM fields, and they left feeling empowered to pursue their dreams. 

The fourth day of the program saw the AIMS team visiting Inyange Girls School of Sciences and Stella Matutina Secondary School in Rulindo district. The team was excited to encourage more girls to pursue STEM careers, and they were impressed by the girls’ enthusiasm for learning. Vicky Kondi, Jolly Batamuliza, and Munezero Immaculee were happy to share their knowledge and experiences with the girls, and they hoped to have inspired the next generation of women in STEM. 

The AIMS’ STEM outreach program has been a resounding success. By providing a platform for young girls to learn about STEM and meet women who have excelled in STEM fields, AIMS is helping to bridge the gender gap in STEM. It’s inspiring to see young girls in Rwanda embracing STEM, and we hope that more organizations will follow AIMS’ lead and invest in the future of women in STEM. 

This outreach activity is a step in the right direction towards addressing the gender gap in STEM. It is important to provide girls with the resources they need to pursue careers in these fields, as they have historically been underrepresented in STEM industries. Encouraging more girls to pursue STEM will not only benefit them but will also benefit our society as a whole by providing diverse perspectives and innovative ideas to tackle some of the world’s most pressing issues. 

In conclusion, the gender gap in STEM fields is a significant issue that needs to be addressed. AIMS’ outreach activity for young girls is a crucial step in bridging this gap by providing girls with the resources they need to pursue careers in these fields. By visiting schools in different provinces across Rwanda, AIMS is making an effort to reach as many girls as possible and inspire them to consider careers in STEM. It is important that we continue to work towards closing the gender gap in STEM and provide more opportunities for girls to pursue their interests and passions in these fields. 

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