The world over, women (although not as highlighted as men) are at the forefront of the fight against the novel Coronavirus pandemic, popularly known as COVID-19. There are many women scientists and researchers working diligently to advance knowledge of this disease, as well as develop vaccines. From female doctors and nurses who work round the clock treating and caring for those who contracted the disease to female scientists at the forefront of vaccine development, to the public health practitioners developing information and educative materials to convey messages on how to guard against the disease, these brave women, who we will like to call ‘Sheroes’, wear no capes, but are saving the lives of many and restoring normalcy to our world.
The COVID-19 pandemic has certainly had a significant negative impact on women scientists, particularly affecting those at the early stages of their Science Technology Engineering Mathematics (STEM) careers. This is contributing to widening the existing gender gap in science and revealing the gender disparities in the scientific system, which need to be addressed by new policies, initiatives, and mechanisms to support women and girls in science.
To highlight and support the work of female scientists, this year’s International Day for Women and Girls in Science, celebrated the world over on the 11th day of February, was tagged: Women Scientists at the forefront of the fight against COVID-19. The STEM Belle celebrated this important day by organizing a one-day STEM event for girls in our adopted schools across Ibadan Nigeria.
These events, facilitated by our newly trained teachers were aimed at Creating awareness about Covid-19 and women scientists at the forefront of finding solutions and creating vaccines to fight the pandemic; Creating awareness about STEM careers and the particular subjects combination the students can study to help fight pandemics in the future, e.g Virology, Immunology, Medicine, etc; Creating awareness about our objectives at The STEM Belle; as well as reinforcing Covid-19 preventive measures.
Over 400 girls were in attendance at these programs across three of our four adopted schools, as well as teachers and heads of the schools. During the events, there were STEM spelling bee competitions and the students got to see the pictures and read the bios of some of these superhero women working to bring an end to this pandemic. The STEM Belle teachers also made presentations on the importance of STEM and why it is important that females are well represented in STEM fields.
At The STEM Belle, we celebrate female scientists and researchers working to make our world a safer and healthier place. We also affirm our commitment to increasing female representation in STEM, raising women scientists and researchers who will be equipped to don superhero capes and fight against future outbreaks and pandemics.
The STEM Belle is a female-led non-profit initiative that is recalibrating the gender representation in STEM fields one girl and one teacher at a time. We are solving the problem of gender inequality in STEM fields by attracting and spurring the interest of young female school goers to STEM subjects, retaining them in STEM classes in senior secondary schools, and then advancing them to STEM courses in higher institutions, all the way to leading them into successful STEM careers.