When Mary Mutahi rose up to speak about her roles at AMI to Giovanna's students from the school of Development and Strategic Studies in a forum I organised on Wednesday 23/09/2015, she stated that she was happy and proud to be the only female in the African Data Initiative Development team. Mary also stated that she had studied a degree in Applied Statistics. This was very encouraging to young women present that they can also venture into otherwise male dominated fields. Having one lady in the team made me ponder about different issues related to AMI goals and objectives.
Basically, gender gap starts very early, when girls in primary school and high school start getting messages that maths and sciences are for boys. Even though plenty of research shows that girls do just as well as boys on math tests, there is this unintentional bias among parents and educators that pushes boys toward sciences and maths, and nudges girls away. Different explanations have been brought up by a wide range of researchers ranging from cultural, social and economic explanations.
An important event took place in New York one day after Mary's presentation. The whole world coalesced in the city to append to the Sustainable Development Goals which are also directly related to AMI's goals and objectives. SDG goal 3 is all about ensuring effective learning for all children and youth for life and livelihood. The SDG goal one aims at eradicating all forms of poverty everywhere. Achieving all these is heavily dependent on how we choose to tackle goal 5 of achieving gender equality and empowering all women and girls.
Therefore, there is a need to create environments that support women in maths and technology fields, encourage school girls to take calculus, physics, mathematics and computer classes, teach girls that intellectual skills are acquired and also expose them (and also boys) to female role models in mathematics and technology.
With this, more women, just like Mary will help in achieving the sustainable development goals. Having positive role models like her might also encourage more girls to change their views on Mathematics and Technology fields.