Promoting Women in Stem: Two Gambian Parents Debate as Barrier-Breaking Daughter Becomes STEM Engineer 

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    A member of the newly formed Association of Women in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM), Nyima Jobarteh

    By: Foday Manneh

    A member of the newly formed Association of Women in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM), Nyima Jobarteh recalled her experience with doubters and stereotypes at home in her journey to become an engineer. 

    Long-established stereotypes generally designate engineering as a male-only field, but women like Nyima are fighting to change this. 

    “Nothing should stop women from chasing their dreams, according to Nyima, the Public Officer of STEM – Gambia. 

    “My dad encouraged me to choose a technical school (Bottrop Junior) while my Mum thought I should attend Brikama Junior. However, my Mum argued that Bottrop offers technical programs, and Dad replied, “technical is what is good for her,” Nyima recounted. 

    “By default, my Mum thought, as a lady, I shouldn’t go into a technical field. This is the stereotype we are moving to stop. We are starting right from the homes.” She added. 

    Nyima Jobarteh is now an expert engineer working for the National Water and Electricity Company (NAWEC) in The Gambia. 

    With only a few women in STEM sectors as professionals due to the longstanding stereotype and lack of role models, Nyima’s association is committed to changing narratives positioning STEM as a significant contributor to the advancement of society, where young girls and women play a crucial role. 

    According to research, women in STEM careers reported having experienced discrimination in their earnings as they make less than a man doing the same job, unfair treatment, and repeated abuse at the workplace where they receive less support from senior leaders. 

    For women in STEM in The Gambia, these challenges are coupled with having to work in male-dominated professions and environments that are not women-friendly. 

    Women professionals in STEM decided to form the association to create a community of STEM professionals whose main objective is to encourage, motivate, mentor, coach, and guide both secondary school and university graduates to pursue STEM careers and work toward them. 

    “We have scientific and technical experts who do marvelous things out there. We have security experts and web developers ready to motivate young girls and women to venture into STEM sectors.” Jobarteh highlighted.

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