Inspiring the Next Generation of Women in STEM
DEKRA Engineer Mahenna Ali on International Women and Girls Day
International Women and Girls in Science Day celebrated on 11th of February is a day dedicated to highlighting the important contributions of women and girls in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). According to UNESCO, only 33.3% represents the global average for female researchers. This day serves as a reminder of the need to increase the representation and participation of women and girls in the STEM disciplines, which have historically been male-dominated.
The relevance of this day lies in the recognition that women and girls possess a crucial role in shaping the future of science and technology. Despite making up half of the world’s population, women and girls are still underrepresented in the STEM field, facing significant barriers in accessing education, employment and leadership opportunities in these areas. The lack of diversity in STEM fields poses a risk of maintaining a narrow perspective on the subject and limiting the true potential for original and inclusive solutions.
The commemoration of International Women and Girls in Science Day serves as a platform to bring to light the inequalities prevalent in the field and to emphasise the significance of rectifying them. It affords a singular occasion to applaud the accomplishments of women in STEM and to encourage young girls to aspire in pursuing careers in this realm.
Mahenna Ali, a 23-year-old engineer working for DEKRA as a consultant was drawn to a career in engineering due to its promise of utilising her skills to unravel groundbreaking solutions: ‘As an engineer, you can use your talents to find solutions that no one else thought of. It’s an opportunity to make your mark in the world’. She was inspired to pursue a career in STEM despite the challenges that come with it. As a woman of ethnic minority, she faced cultural barriers that were intimidating, but ultimately this only fuelled her passion: ‘I wanted to inspire those in similar situations to me and show that going out of your comfort zone can be daunting, but highly rewarding’.
Mahenna sheds light on the difficulties faced by women in the STEM industry, where a male-dominated environment often leads to increased pressure to prove their worth and attain recognition: ‘I think there are many challenges that women face in STEM sector. Working in a male-dominated world means women have to work harder to be recognised and are under much more pressure to prove their worth’. This serves as a reminder of the ongoing struggles faced by women in STEM and the importance of promoting diversity and inclusion in the industry.
For women and girls who are interested in pursuing a career in science, Mahenna has some inspiring advice. As a young engineer herself, she knows the challenges that come working in a male-dominated industry, but she also emphasises the rewards that come when taking risks: ‘My advice would be to take risks. Take the chance to speak with someone successful in your area of interest who can provide valuable insight into the STEM career field. Build networks with others in your field and seek out opportunities to use your talents’. By reaching out to those who already succeeded in the field, women and girls can gain valuable knowledge and support as they embark on their own careers.
Mahenna spoke about the steps that companies can take to encourage more women in scientist and engineering roles: ‘When it comes to encouraging women in STEM, companies can take a proactive approach by partnering with local schools and organisations. This is an effective way to spread awareness about the opportunities in STEM and inspire young girls to consider a career in science. Additionally, having visible roles for women in STEM is crucial as it empowers girls to see that they too can have a successful career’. Thus, girls are far more likely to feel confident in STEM when they know a woman working in the field.
Mahenna believes that there has been significant progress in recent years, but there is still a long journey ahead before the gender gap in this field is truly bridged: ‘To combat this, we should continue to introduce girls to STEM topics from a young age and foster their motivation to study math and science. We need to challenge society’s limited thinking by teaching girls about the accomplishments of women in STEM industries’.
To conclude, the commemoration of International Women and Girl in Science Day is a reminder of the ongoing efforts to increase representation and participation of women and girls in STEM fields. With Mahenna Ali as a shining example, DEKRA is actively championing diversity and inclusion in the workplace, encouraging the next generation of young girls to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.