THE Government of Guyana is seeking to place more attention on in the participation of girls and women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) through information and empowerment initiatives.
This was evident at the #GyGirlPower forum hosted at the Arthur Chung Convention Centre (ACCC) on Monday, where over 200 girls from 15 secondary schools across Regions Three, Four, Five and 10 attended.
The programme was held in light of International STEM Day, and was made possible through collaboration among the Ministries of Education, Public Infrastructure and the European Union (EU) Delegation to Guyana.
Some 30 plus persons – most of whom were women – presented at the forum, except for presentations coming from the likes of Vice-Chancellor and Principal of the University of Guyana, Professor Ivelaw Lloyd Griffith.
“The point is to encourage our girls to pursue STEM and STEM-related studies and careers in direct relation to our sea and river defence programme at the Ministry of Public Infrastructure,” Marissa Massiah, Human Resources Manager at the ministry said.
The specific focus in sea and river defence is as a result of the EU-funded ‘Women in Engineering and Technology Awareness’ project, geared towards promoting women in Disaster Risk Management (DRM), which the #GyGirlPower campaign forms a part.
The forum also showcased Guyanese women influential in STEM fields as positive role models for girls.
Speaking about their experiences were 16-year-old Petal Monroe from Vreed-en-Hoop Secondary School and 15-year-old Marina Stevens.
Monroe said that while she does not like science, she does well in the subject and now feels empowered to explore further, she told the newspaper: “I think I can do it.”
Meanwhile, Stevens said: “It was very amazing. I learnt a lot and I’m pretty sure all of the other young ladies who attended this forum really appreciated the fact that these very successful women took time out to come and teach us more about our available resources and the career choices that we can take.”
Massiah also expressed her pleasure regarding the many questions asked by the students which she said is testimony to their growing interest in STEM.
“This is not an opportunity that was previously afforded to them, so I think having them in such an environment with the level of persons that were here was very cutting edge and revolutionary,” she said.
“With STEM everything is possible and so we’re encouraging our girls, our fathers especially, to allow your girls to study STEM-related subjects and to pursue STEM related careers.”
Meanwhile, National Science Coordinator within the Education Ministry Petal Punalall-Jetoo, added: “With an understating in science, technology and innovation, it brings out a high level of creativity and this is what we want our girls to embrace. They should not be limited in their thinking, but they should be motivated by the role models presented to follow their own dreams and to carve their own pathways.”
The #GyGirlPower campaign will see the release of 10 new promotional videos which capture interviews with well-respected figures who strongly support the sentiment of the need for girls to better apply themselves in STEM subjects.