The Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, has called for greater attention to encouraging an increasing number of girls to pursue science, technology, engineering and mathematics, STEM, careers.
Speaking at the Rivers State finals of a science competition for girls in senior secondary school, organised as part of the NDDC-sponsored Girls in Engineering, Mathematics and Science, GEMS, programme, the NDDC Acting Managing Director, Mrs. Ibim Semenitari, said that a huge gap exists for women to fill in these fields.
The NDDC Chief Executive Officer said: “We thought it is time to ask that greater attention be given to encouraging more and more girls to move up the ladder. Of special signicance to the Niger Delta region is science, technology, engineering and mathematics. We need to have more and more girls pursue STEM-related careers.”
Mrs. Semenitari explained that the existence of 90 percent of job opportunities in STEM-related careers, while globally only about 14 percent of women find themselves going into STEM-related careers creates “a problem and a reason to be concerned.”
She said: “When you look at global statistics, you find that there is a near-parity in the population of women and men. Therefore, it is important that we begin to encourage women also to step up and step out. We are asking everybody to step out for gender parity; to step out to have more women in decision-making and STEM-related careers. This is why the NDDC has chosen to support the Girls in Engineering, Mathematics and Science programme.”
The NDDC boss further said, “if we do not ensure that the other half, which is young girls and women, are not able to go into STEM-related careers, it means that there will be a problem of manpower. So we need to get our girls to begin to think about science.”
Thirty girls from several senior secondary schools in Rivers State took part in the state finals of the science competition at Holy Rosary College, Port Harcourt, after the preliminaries that began with 300 students. The top ten girls at the state finals will proceed to lock horns with their counterparts from other states.