For too long, according to the Minister of Communication, Science and Technology, Thesele ’Maseribane, discriminatory stereotypes have prevented women and girls from having equal access to education in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM).
“These stereotypes are simply wrong,” he said in his remarks in commemoration of the end to Women’s Month (August), during a roundtable discussion in Maseru.
The minister showed that the stereotypes deny women and girls the chance to realise their potential while depriving the world of the ingenuity and innovation of half the population.
“We need to end this bias, have greater investments in STEM education for all women and girls as well as create opportunities for their careers and longer-term professional advancement so that all can benefit from their ground-breaking future contributions.
“We need to step it up in data, knowledge, advocacy and movement building to demolish the myth of female incapacity and inferiority in STEM to build and sustain girls’ and women's interest in and confidence about their inner spark to take on the challenge of STEM education and careers.
“We need to inculcate a STEM culture in a gender-neutral way but with special appeal to women and girls from early childhood to adulthood, from homes, schools, universities and labs to tech ventures. Making it cool and making it second nature for them to embrace as a hobby, as a passion, as an academic pursuit, as a profession, as a profitable enterprise. Recognition and awards from the start energises the female STEM flocks.
“We need to step it up to train and develop skills in incubators, research and data labs and rebooting through the life and career cycles,” ’Maseribane explained.
He also emphasised the importance of both women and men STEM leaders in mentoring girls and women in all stages on their path to participation and leadership in STEM education and careers.