Programs that truly increase women in STEM

Previously, we highlighted a few women in STEM from the AIMS Network including Dr Nana Ama Browne Klutse, Dr Sara Suliman, Abigail Annkah, and more who are incredible female scientists. Despite the effort that institutions put in increasing women in STEM, women remain less represented in STEM fields. This week, we go deep into how women-only programs and initiatives at AIMS systematically solve this issue.  

In this fast-changing digital era, girls must get good STEM education. According to Unicef, 40 million to 160 million women will need to change between jobs by 2030. Often, they will need to transition into roles that require more complex digital, cognitive, social, and emotional skills. Not investing in girls’ education, especially in STEM, would lead them to lose better-paying jobs. Even worse, girls would not be able to innovate, and the world would miss out on their talent. 

Our gender-responsive Teacher Training Program (TTP) is improving STEM learning outcomes for secondary school students, especially girls, to build a pipeline of STEM talent in Africa.  

 Located at our centres in Rwanda, Cameroon, and South Africa, TTP is working tirelessly to improve STEM education for young girls. Through professional development courses, high-quality classroom resources and technology-driven Smart Classrooms, AIMS empowers teachers to improve their pedagogy and increase the transition of African youth to tertiary STEM education. 

The TTP program started in a partnership between AIMS and MasterCard Foundation to reach a million secondary school students within five years by training ten thousand teachers in Rwanda and Cameroon.  

TTP uses the Mathematics and Sciences for Sub-Saharan Africa (MS4SSA) approach, covering content, pedagogy, infrastructure and assessments to enhance the learning outcomes for mathematics, physics, chemistry and biology among secondary school students. Also, TTP uses outreach and public engagement to provoke change in attitude and challenge stereotypes around girls in STEM. 

For example, to celebrate the International Day of Women and Girls in Science, the TTP team in Rwanda organized an outreach activity in which women in STEM visited 104 schools across 14 districts of Rwanda. The visiting women encouraged the younger generation in those schools to pursue STEM, informed them on what to expect, and gave them advice regarding solving any issues they would face.  

Beyond the Teacher Training Program, AIMS uses women-only programs such as the AIMS Fellowship Program for Women in Climate Change Science and Girls in Mathematical Sciences Program (GMSP) to promote the education and involvement of more women in STEM.  

The AIMS Fellowship Program for Women in Climate Change Science seeks to increase women contributing to a more sustainable societal response to climate change. Created in 2017, this program is part of the broader AIMS efforts of building Africans’ intellectual capacity required to address the myriad challenges to Africa’s development arising from climate change.  

Successful fellows get awarded USD 35000 to accelerate their research in climate change. The fellows execute their projects in a suitable African host institution, contributing significantly to developing and implementing innovative policies and strategies for climate change mitigation, adaptation, and resilience.  

Learn more about this vital program here

The second women-only program increasing women’s participation in STEM fields is the Girls in Mathematics Sciences Program (GMSP). Created in November 2020 at AIMS Ghana, GMSP is a fully-funded, exciting and challenging 9-month program created for bright, curious and creative female Senior High School students to unlock their potential in Mathematical Sciences. In short, like TTP, the GMSP’s primary goal is creating future African researchers, scientists, and problem solvers. It’s an important step to create a world where it’s normal to see successful female scientists.  

In the program, young girls identify specific problems and find innovative ways to solve them. Additionally, they get career mentorships with re-owned African researchers and AIMS Alumni helping them learn about career options after pursuing studies in STEM fields. This is critical because it allows the girls to understand the broad application of science. 

Girls need an education that equips them with the necessary skills to equally and actively participate in solving the most urgent challenges our world faces. 

Through innovative pedagogical approaches, technology and continually updated curricula and resources, AIMS remains committed to playing a critical role in building a sustainable pipeline of home-grown STEM talent in Africa.