Information, Communication and Technology Cabinet Secretary Joe Mucheru today asked training institutions to encourage women to enroll for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematic (STEM) courses. Mr Mucheru said STEM courses are dominated by men as women shy away from enrolling in the courses due to stereotypes.
The Cabinet Secretary said stereotypes associated with STEM courses instill fear and undermine the performance of the few women who pursue the male-dominated field. “We are aware that 30 percent of college students doing STEM courses are women and out of the 30 percent, at least half of them drop out before or soon after graduation,” said Mucheru.
Mr Mucheru said this in a speech read on his behalf by the Ministry’s ICT Secretary, Dr Katherine Getao, during an International STEM Conference held at the United States International University (USIU-Africa) Nairobi. The theme of the conference which drew participants from Africa, Central and South Asia, Middle East and the US was ‘She Believed She Could, So She did STEM’.
The conference will seek to identify and generate strategies to address stereotypes that threaten to hold back the advancement of women and girls in STEM. Mr Mucheru lauded USIU for organizing the conference saying it is being held at a time when the government is concerned with gender disparities in STEM.
“The government is trying to address this situation (gender disparity in STEM course) in order to prepare and empower women and girls participate equally in growing our economy,” said Mucheru.
He said the government has launched programmes which promote gender equity in Science and Technology based courses. Mr Mucheru cited Digital Literacy Programme (DLP), Presidential Digital Talent Programme (PDTP), Constituency Innovation Hubs, and Ajira Digital Programme as examples of some of the initiatives to promote gender equity in STEM.
The objective of DLP is to integrate ICT into teaching and learning by providing Class One pupils in over 23,000 primary schools with DLP devices. PDTP is aimed at growing ICT leadership and management skills to enhance the relevance of ICT in public service delivery while the establishment of Constituency Innovation Hubs in the 290 constituencies is meant to harness creative and innovative potential of the youth.
The Ajira Digital Program introduces Kenyans to online work and provides the tools, training, and mentorship needed for young people to earn a living through on-line jobs.