(Xinhua) -- Yvonne Karanja grew up in a small rural
town on the outskirts of Nairobi, at a time when the society
placed little premium on academic aspirations of the girl
Nevertheless, the 22-year-old
mathematics and geography major defied cultural myths to
pursue education with gusto and with the full knowledge
that it could open new opportunities that were a mirage
to rural girls.
Karanja intends to pursue a post
graduate degree in urban planning if she excels in her
mathematics and geography major.
Speaking to Xinhua on the sidelines of
an event to mark the International Day for Women and
Girls in Science held in Nairobi on Monday, Karanja said
her career aspirations were on the right trajectory
thanks to embrace of a science related discipline.
“Pursuing a highly technical course
has not been easy but boundless encouragement from
my female mentors and parents has inspired me to go
the distance,” said Karanja.
She is a member of an all female
network in her university that seeks to encourage young
women countrywide to take up science related courses.
“We meet regularly as young aspiring
female scientists and engineers to bond and share
tips on how we can excel in school and the career
world. Luckily, most of us have a shared vision of
making a mark in science, technology, engineering
and mathematics,” Karanja told Xinhua.
(Xinhua) — A local student demonstrates how to
use a multi-purpose solar heater during the
International Day of Women and Girls in Science, in
Nairobi, Feb. 12, 2018. Under the theme “Equality and
Parity in Science for Peace and Development”, the
celebration brought together student scientists from
secondary and tertiary institutions, practicing women
scientists, as well as teachers and lecturers who
contribute to making the difference in girls’
participation in Science, Technology, Engineering and
XINHUA PHOTO: CHARLES
Kenya marked the international day for
women and girls in science amid concern about a glaring gender
disparity in the uptake of this discipline.
Senior policymakers, campaigners and
scholars who graced the event agreed that Kenya’s realization of
sustainable development and peace hinges on gender parity in
science and technology.
“Our country should expand the space
for women and girls to pursue science related courses. This
is the only way to catapult us to the next phase of
development,” said Moses Rugut, the Director General,
National Council for Science Technology and Innovation.
He revealed that Kenya ranks among top
ten African countries that have enacted progressive
legislation and policies to boost uptake of science,
technology, engineering and mathematics by the female.
Kenya’s growing army of female
scientists and engineers has defied huge odds to become
central players in the country’s socio-economic
Fridah Chebet, a 22-year-old civil
engineering major, revealed her desire to participate in
her country’s infrastructure modernization upon
“In civil engineering, I found my
calling and would like to utilize my expertise to
help modernize our transport infrastructure. Am
aware this is a male dominated field but feel
honored to be among the few girls who have ventured
into it without hesitation,” Chebet told Xinhua.
She grew up in the tea growing
highlands of northwestern parts of Kenya where very few
girls dared to pursue engineering and often opted for
softer vocations like teaching and nursing.
(Xinhua) -- Ann Therese Ndong-Jatta,
Regional Director of United Nations Educational,
Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) speaks
during the International Day of Women and Girls in
Science, in Nairobi, Feb. 12, 2018.
XINHUA PHOTO: CHARLES
Chebet drew inspiration from her
mother who kept on nudging her to pursue a technical course in
the university in the hope that it would secure her gainful
Kenyan young women have become
trailblazers in science and technology fields despite huge
bottlenecks that stand in their journey to success.
Elsie Njoroge, a 23-year-old petroleum
engineering major, said that it took sheer courage and
determination for her to enroll for her dream course.
“We have very few young ladies in the
petroleum engineering course and it is out of sheer
determination and hard work that we managed to land in this
male dominated field,” said Njoroge
Born and raised in a middle class
suburb in Nairobi, Njoroge was lucky to have enlightened parents
and close relatives who gave her strategic career guidance.
“My parents were instrumental in my
career choice and have vowed not to disappoint them. I look
forward to a successful career in oil and gas sector that is
still nascent in the country,” Njoroge told Xinhua.
Kenya should undertake aggressive
policy reforms and invest in mentorship and public awareness to
bridge gender gap in science related disciplines, analysts
Hendrina Chalwe Doroba, the Executive
Director of Nairobi-based Forum for African Women
Educationalists, said that an enabling policy environment is key
to promote the uptake of science, technology, engineering and
mathematics among Kenyan women and girls.
“It is possible for Kenya to close the
gender gap in sciences if the government embarks on policy
reforms, invests in teachers’ training and mentorship
programs to increase the number of girls pursuing technical
courses,” Doroba said.