Girls & Technology Factsheet

This factsheet depicts why we need more girls in Technology and related fields. A UNESCO report titled “Cracking the Code: Girls and Women in STEM”, highlights the fact that there are not enough girls in school and amongst the girls in school there is a discrepancy in the number of girls studying STEM subjects. This report highlights that leaving out girls and women in STEM education is a loss for all. It further states that gender differences in STEM participation at the expense of girls are visible in early childhood care and education and become more visible at higher levels of education. Girls appear to lose in interest in STEM subjects with age and lower levels of participation are seen in advanced studies at the secondary level. By higher education, women represent only 35% of all students enrolled in STEM related fields of study[1].

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A McKinsey article on breaking down the gender challenge in the workplace discusses how in some industries, it is difficult to attract women for entry level positions so this makes women to be poorly represented throughout the talent pipeline in the United States[2] . This article further states that the problem starts from pre-pipeline structures such as the low graduation rates of women in industry feeder programs such as engineering where women receive 20 percent of Bachelor’s, 24 percent of Master’s and 23 percent of Doctorate degrees.  These figures illustrate how  having relatively few women study STEM degrees translates to an overall lower number of women in the STEM workforce.

 

Looking at the UnitedKingdom in comparison, similar trends are found where, as of 2018, the number of female STEM graduates was 26% with male graduates being at a staggering 74%. STEM Women reports that computer science, science and technology fields show the largest gender imbalance from current students[3]. On the flip side, Physical Science degrees have seen a year-on-year increase in the number of female graduates, showing that efforts to encourage women to study physics and chemistry based subjects have been successful.

Shifting gears to a local view by examining the number of women versus men admitted into Nigerian higher education institutions via the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) examination in STEM subjects, we observe similar trends. The data shows that in 2018, amongst admitted JAMB candidates who studiedEngineering/Technology/Environmental Science women made up only 15.63% while men made up 84.37%[4]. Showing a large gap between both genders which indicates that more needs to be done to engage more girls in Technology and related subjects. The figures are slightly better when you look at those who studied Sciences; women were 39.8% while men were 60.2%. This also shows that Physical Sciences are more popular amongst women in Nigeria as opposed to Technology & Engineering subjects.

In examining the data from the JAMB in 2018, it is evident that the states with the lowest rankings for girls who studied Engineering/Technology/Environmental Science are  situated in northern Nigeria namely Zamfara, Sokoto, Abuja F.C.T, Kebbi and Jigawa. The states with the highest number of women who studied the same subjects were Oyo, Osun, Imo, Delta and Ogun. A report by the British council shows that on average only 46% of the girls in Northern Nigeria attended primary school against 79% of girls in Southern Nigeria[5]. The states with the highest and lowest numbers of women studying STEM correspond with the states with the highest and lowest number of girls enrolled in or completing basic education.

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These figures suggest that the numbers of women studying and working in STEM has more to do with social and economic factors such as access to education, social stereotypes and cultural norms than it does with women and girls’ true abilities or biological differences. With more attention paid to research on the gender gap the and deliberate efforts made by governments, schools, parents and other key stakeholders to address them, there are no reasons why we cannot start to see a gender balance in the study and pursue of careers in STEM disciplines.

Sources

  1. Cracking the code: girls’ and women’s education in science, technology, engineering

and mathematics (STEM) https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000253479

  1. Breaking down the gender challenge https://www.mckinsey.com/businessfunctions/

Organization/our’s-insights/breaking-down-the-gender-challenge

  1. Percentages of Women in STEM Statistics

https://www.stemwomen.co.uk/blog/2019/09/women-in-stem-percentages-of-womenin-

stem-statistics

  1. JAMB Applications and admitted candidates by state and gender within faculty

https://nigerianstat.gov.ng/download/917

  1. Girls Education in Nigeria https://www.britishcouncil.org/sites/default/files/british-council-girls-education-nigeria-report.pdf

[1] Cracking the code: girls’ and women’s education in science, technology, engineering

and mathematics (STEM)

[2]Breaking down the gender challenge

[3]Percentages of Women in STEM Statistics

[4]JAMB Applications and admitted candidates by state and gender within faculty

[5] Girls’ Education in Nigeria

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