Currently only 30% of roles in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) are held by women. In Africa the numbers are even less encouraging. The Working to Advance STEM Education for African Women (WAAW) Foundation is trying hard to change this. They are running several programs to promote African women’s education.
Theit ‘STEM-in-a-handbag kit’ provides pop up computer labs for teaching secondary school girls. WAAW recruit, train and equip female college students to provide the STEM tutoring, computer science training and to mentor young girls in secondary school – in the hope of empowering and inspiring African women to enter STEM fields.
They use a kit composed of a credit card-sized mini computer, with a corresponding Arduino set powered by a Raspberry Pi. It is so compact that you can fit up to twelve of them into one handbag or backpack. Once connected to a monitor or laptop, the kit provides eight hours of continuous, preloaded IT lesson plans. It can run regardless of electricity disruptions, an issue in many remote schools. Armed with the teaching kit, over 120 students have already taught more than 4,000 girls. The handbag has never looked so smart.
Claire Gordon-Webster is London-residing British-South African actress and freelance writer for the Huffington Post and Ideas Tap magazine.
Tolulope Owajoba, Director, Working to Advance STEM Education for African Women (WAAW)