GE and Junior Achievement Ivory Coast hosted a “Girls in STEM” event for 100 secondary school girls to build foundational science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) knowledge.
The programme was organised as part of GE Gas Power’s commitment to inclusion and diversity, to inspire the next generation of women engineers and innovators. The aim of the programme is to help shape the perception of STEM careers and shift the gender gap in these key fields.
The programme featured leadership and educational panel discussions, mentoring and career insights sessions from renowned STEM leaders in the region as well as visits to STEM related sites including the Azito power plant in Yopougon, GE’s simulation centre in Bingerville and the CIPREL power plant in Vridi.
The site visits were aimed at creating an immersive experience into potential careers that can be explored in STEM.
According to the World Bank and the 2020 Global Gender Gap Index by the World Economic Forum (WEF), there are fewer women than men who are STEM graduates in most economies and although progress is being made to increase women’s participation in many fields, they still make up a minority of the world’s STEM workforce which experts say is impeding progress in solving Africa’s complex development problems.
Women’s workforce participation has been demonstrated to be a potent driver of the economic growth and development of a country with research showing a significant association between a country’s GDP and female labour force participation.
“To improve economic inclusion and narrow the gender gap, companies, schools, relevant government agencies and institutions need to launch new programmes and expand existing efforts to attract more female talent into STEM fields. These efforts must start early, such as encouraging more girls to pursue STEM subjects in school and consider STEM fields as they move through their education cycle. Our goal is to enable and encourage the next generation of women engineers and innovators that will transform Africa,” said Elisee Sezan, CEO for GE’s Gas Power business in sub-Saharan Africa.
Muriel Banny M’Bow, the Board’s Chair from Junior Achievement in Ivory Coast said: “We are pleased to collaborate with GE Gas Power for today’s Girls in STEM event as it aligns with our overall mission to significantly contribute to a better workforce of tomorrow by preparing students for jobs of the future. Tackling the gender imbalance within STEM careers through enabling more girls and women is important for innovation.”