How STEMBees is Building a SiSTEM for Change

Abu Okari | Friday, October 6th, 2017

 “STEMBees is working towards “building a community of women in STEM – a SiSTEM.”

Founded by three MEST alumnae in 2014, STEMBees is a nonprofit focused on encouraging and mentoring more young African women to pursue careers in STEM, with a goal of minimizing the current gender gap. Together, they are working to “build a community of women in STEM – a SiSTEM”.

All three founders have a background in STEM and after experiencing the effects of the gender gap themselves, they decided something had to change. Co-founder Lady-Omega Hammond explains, “We realized how vast the opportunities were in STEM. Experiencing some of these fields for ourselves, we noticed not many females embraced it. Also, the way in which STEM subjects were taught in school was cumbersome. We decided to do something about it. Hence, STEMBees was born.”

The Co-Founders of STEMBees with other participants of CODEBUS

For co-founders Angela and Lady-Omega, their parents played a huge role in inspiring them to get interested in STEM. Angela’s father is an engineer who always made math fun for her and even “helped her understand that doing STEM made her more versatile to explore any career.”

Lady-Omega’s parents suggested engineering to her after she decided becoming a doctor was not the right path for her. However, both women realized that having parents who encourage STEM is not always the case – this is why STEMBees is filling that gap and encouraging young girls to pursue careers in STEM.

Lady-Omega believes exposure is key: “The STEM field is huge, with so many opportunities they can embrace. A lot of girls in our public schools don’t have a person to tell them you can be a coder, an engineer, and more. We are exposing them to this.”

STEMBees uses two approaches in an effort to bridge the STEM gender gap. First, “the numbers approach”, which involves advocacy and communication to create awareness and garner interest in STEM fields. STEMBees is doing this through career guidance, camps, and workshops.

A STEMBees event at MEST

They also use an impact-based approach, which focuses on programmatic efforts designed to develop girls in STEM and help them remain in the STEM pool.

In 2016, STEMBees started an after-school program for girls, which currently runs in three public junior high schools and one community library. This program is designed to develop the girls’ knowledge of STEM and encourage them to remain in STEM through modules introducing 3D Design and Printing, Electronics, LEGO Education, and more.

150 girls have gone through their after school programs, and teachers are noticing the effect. Angela says, “At the first school that we piloted (about 50 girls), we had teachers tell us that the girls’ attitudes toward studying changed because we encouraged the to be more curious, ask questions, and explore.”

Over the next year, STEMBees is hoping to create an even bigger impact. During this academic year, it is their hope that they will be able to set up a scholarship fund to support high school girls pursuing STEM subjects, engage girls in more Robotics and Engineering challenges, and form an exciting new partnership to bring the after school program to high schools.

However, they cannot do it without funding and support. STEMBees is currently fundraising 4,000 Euros, which will be used to continue the current after school programs and expand to new schools. They are also seeking organisations that are interested in mentoring STEMBees girls through their Employee Community Engagement programs.

 

You can donate to the STEMBees crowdfunding campaign here and reach the STEMBees ladies at info@stembees.org!