“You can inspire your role models as you grow”- Ghana Society for Education Technology hosts a webinar to commemorate International Women’s Day

By Marguerita Bagulo

8th March is a day set aside to celebrate women for their achievements irrespective of their national, ethnic, cultural, political, or economic differences. Since its inception, International women’s day has spread globally and has become a rallying point for supporting women’s participation and rights in all areas. Women have taken this opportunity to break the glass ceilings into until recently known, male-dominated fields, especially in STEM areas, which brings us to the theme of this year; “Breaking The Bias.”

The International Women’s Day website explains the values of their theme as, “A world free of bias, stereotypes, and discrimination. A world that is diverse, equitable, and inclusive. A world where difference is valued and celebrated.” This is an encouragement for women to stand up for equality, both in the social and corporate fields. Spotlight is put on the biases that are still in existence and how females should be empowered enough to break through the shackles of bias.

The Ghana Society for Education Technology joined women everywhere to celebrate this auspicious day with a ‘BreakTheBias’ themed webinar discussion with a focus on women in the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) fields. Janet Anagli of the Ghana Society for Education Technology moderated the event. The webinar themed “Women STEM Talents: How Are African Women Faring?” featured a panel comprised of STEM talents across sectors: Lydia Lutterodt-Forbes, a Maths Educator/Academic Specialist; Elsie Kauffman PhD, an Associate Professor and Founding Head of the Department of Biomedical Engineering at the University of Ghana; Josiah Eyison, CEO of iSpace Foundation; Jane Awuah, Software Engineer and Data Analyst at Turtabl; and last but not least Larisa Akrofie, founder of Levers In Heels.

Ernest Gavor, Director of Strategy and Innovation at GSET opened the webinar with these words: “At GSET we’re passionate about promoting positive change in the STEM sector through events like this.. We recognize women as inclusive drivers and appreciate the benefits of ensuring gender equity in STEM fields in the country. But we know there is more work to do within our organizations and industry as a whole. We hope this event will showcase the fantastic roles in the STEM  sector and give attendees some useful takeaways to effect change in their organizations and industries.”

The panel discussion was centered on how to deal with the issues women face in their STEM careers, as well as other careers in general, career development hacks, and how to tackle bias against women in the workplace. Besides these main topics, there were a few issues that worked their way into the conversation. One pathway that was illuminated on how to battle the bias against women was finding appropriate and competent role models to guide young STEM learners on their journey. “Find suitable role models who you support and who support you. Be open-minded about what they say. You can inspire your role model as you grow on your own journey.”, was the highlight of Lydia Lutterodt-Forbes.

In addition to finding role models, it can be agreed that the battle against bias is a two-way street that involves both genders. In as much as we try to uplift women in society, we also have a duty of not diluting the importance of the role women play in education by raising unwarranted rebuttals that undermine their efforts. Josiah Eyison, iterated that “Both men and women can work together in removing these biases. It is never a fight but a conversation about biases. It shouldn’t be just talking about it but working towards removing these biases.”

Speakers from all STEM fields sharing their experiences on the webinar

Skills and workplace productivity in the job market were also touched on during this session as the founder of Levers In Heels, Larisa Akrofie made it clear that lack of confidence may impede the communication abilities of some ladies growing up. However, she urged them to be bold and refrain from succumbing to fear. With regards to matters of productivity, the quiz mistress of the National Science and Maths Quiz made it clear that having a goal and good time management skills become more and more relevant as the challenges get tougher.”Have a plan and good time management skills because the responsibilities get bigger as you go higher. Learn how to say no to things that are not productive.” 

Jane Awuah crowned the discussion on skills and workplace productivity by urging everyone to upgrade themselves and become indispensable members of their field by learning new and improving on their old skill sets. This always gives them an upper hand in the job market as they constantly become a newly improved version of themselves. “Look out for job descriptions and find skills that you’re lacking in. Do more research about those skills and build on them,” she emphasized. 

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