A group of young students from Glasgow University grouped into Female Engineering-FEMENG came to Rwanda to meet their FemEng counterparts at the University of Rwanda. The visit is in line with a collaborative initiative with the University of Rwanda to encourage participation of young women in science and engineering fields.
Lydie Irababarira ; a student at the College of Science and Technology, University of Rwanda and FEMENG leader at Rwandan side noted that joining the group was motivated by insights and clear vision that FEMENG provide about the importance of science studies among female students. She added that the group members are an inspiration to other high school students to show them that STEM courses are doable which make them enthusiastic to join.
“If I can manage to study physics and obtain high score, why not other aspiring female students,” said Irababarira a level 2 student in Physics.
FEMENG group from Glasgow University was led by Hannah Gibson who has 3 years as the group member. She stated that part of her mission within the group include carrying out outreach activities to meet female students and encourage them to undertake opportunities available in engineering courses and science in general.
Lydie Irababarira (L) and Hannah Gibson during the meeting with UR officials
“Having female who have succeeded in STEM course during our campaign is an opportunity for us because they serve as role models” said Gibson, adding that the movement tries to inspire young students with the spirit to find fun in pursuing STEM courses.
Speaking while receiving FEMENG group Dr Ignace Gatare, the Principal of Science and Technology noted that the issue of low turn up of women in higher education is triggered by the misconception and societal narrative about the women capacity to undertake science courses. He commended the motivation and passion demonstrated by FEMENG members and was convinced that their stories can change the public thinking about engineering and science among women.
“Female engineers are the living testimony that joining STEM for young female is possible,”Gatare said while revealing the mismatch between the condition and choice at high school among female students in science courses. he further argued that students at high school are equipped with fundamental skills to undertake STEM but they refuse to enrol at higher level for unknown reasons.
The Deputy Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Research linked the issue with the existing misconception and cultural belief that women cannot undertake jobs requiring physical strength. Prof Nelson Ijumba noted that back in the history engineering was much mechanical, and people were seeing women not strong enough to undertake some works like building bridges, ships or climbing towers. According to him, things have changed and female engineers can do everything such as design, simulation. Ijumba believes that FEMENG initiative will propel the proportion of women to higher education
Dr Ignace Gatare & Prof Ijumba during the meeting with FEMENG group
“You’re planting seeds that are going to results into a big plantation” Said Prof Ijumba
FEMENG pose for a group photo