At the 12th Inaugural lecture for the 2018/2019 academic session, Professor Uchenna Udeani, a professor of Science Education, University of Lagos (UNILAG), Akoka, added to the body of knowledge to the concern of underrepresentation of women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM).
She presented Gender Inclusive Instructional Strategy (GIIS) as her tested tool for igniting passion toward STEM and also, canvassed for family and societal encouragement for the female gender to disarm the stereotype that has placed limitations for aspiration to STEM subjects and careers.
Delivering her lecture titled: ‘Beyond Bias and Barriers: Fulfilling the Potentials of Women and Girls in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM), at J.F. Ade-Ajayi Auditorium, UNILAG, Prof Udeani stressed that the impact of killing the gender-bias and building confidence in the girl-child to embrace STEM is tremendous.
According to her, education and gender equality are an integral part of the 2030 agenda for Sustainable Development Goal adopted of the United Nations and that statistics from UNESCO showed that many girls are held back by discrimination, biases, social norms and expectations that influence the quality of education they receive and the subjects they study.
‘’ Only 18 women have won a Nobel Prize in Physics, Chemistry or Medicine since Marie Curie in 1903 compared to 572 men. Today, only 28 percent of the world’s researchers are women.’’
Aside from family, socio-cultural limitation, Udeani, who obtained her first degree and Ph.D. from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka also faulted educators and media as promoting the stereotype that is lowering the rate of female participation in STEM subjects and consequently, STEM careers. She believes however that this circle can be broken.
She urged families not to deny their female children education as one of the ways of bridging the gap between the boys’ and girls educational opportunities. She pointed out that it is only when the girl-child is in school that educators can talk of STEM.
“My expectation from society toward girls in STEM is an encouragement. We are trying to teach teachers to be gender-sensitive in the classroom. We need to encourage the girls to do well, not only the boys.
“The impact of girl-child embracing STEM is tremendous. About 55 percent of the world population is women. Without women and girls, there are no sustainable development goals because STEM underpins the sustainable development goal and everybody including women and girls should be part of it.
“Gender Inclusive Instructional Strategy (GIIS) was developed to make science teaching gender inclusive. When a classroom is gender-sensitive, both males and females benefit,” she said.
Professor Oluwatoyin Ogundipe, the Vice-Chancellor, UNILAG, who applauded Udeani alongside the audience for an impressive delivery of her research work said the first time he came in contact with her was in 1998. The VC described her as a diligent, hardworking and committed lecturer and researcher of the institution.
Justice Uzo Ndukwe Anyanwu, elder sister to Udeani said she did not envisage her getting to the peak of her career. However, she is not surprised she got there knowing her passion and hard work.