South Africa: More Women Needed in Stem Related Fields

There is a need for young people, especially women, to follow a career path in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) industries.

This emerged during a dialogue hosted by Government Communications (GCIS) jointly with the Department of Science and Innovation on Wednesday.

The webinar was hosted to celebrate the contribution of women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) industries.

The event was hosted as part of the Youth Month campaign aimed at inspiring, engaging, and encouraging young women to consider a career in STEM related fields.

According to the UNESCO report titled: “Cracking the code: Girls’ and women’s education in STEM,” only 35% of STEM students in higher education globally are women.

One of the participants, Dr Thulile Khanyile, Scientist, Social Entrepreneur and co-founder of Nka’Thuto EduPropeller, expressed concern on the number of women involved in STEM.

She said the use of technology is on the increase.

“We use science, technology engineering and mathematical products on a daily basis, so we cannot exclude the general public from participating in STEM.

“We need to have women in stem talking about the subject matters and the solutions that they are bringing. We need to increase the participation of women to ensure that we have diverse teams, so that these diverse teams can come up with more diverse and more inclusive solutions,” she said.

Dr Mamoeletsi Mosia, Managing Director of the South African Agency for Science and Technology Advancement (SAASTA) at the National Research Foundation (NRF), said they are tasked with communicating science, engineering, technology and innovation to the broader society.

Mosia said technology and innovation in general is needed and that it is something that must be passed on to society.

“I feel that if we start at the student level, we’ve already missed the boat, the boat actually starts at the parents. They need to understand what it is that if a child says ‘I want a career in biochemistry’ what it is that I will be doing.

“We need to talk to the parents, we need to talk to society and that’s where we start educating society in general. We [are] making science interesting for learners. We have science labs in schools,” she said.

Young people involved in STEM