Women Engineers Pakistan team from LUMHS Jamshoro recently collaborated with Ilm-o-Neroon, an organization seeking "to start informed conversation on educational issues of Hyderabad and Sindh". By virtue of this collaboration, both the organizations partnered to conduct STEM Outreach 10 sessions in schools of Hyderabad and adjacent areas.
Sessions 4 and 5 were conducted in Government Girls High School, Himayatul Islam. These sessions followed a similar trend as previous outreach events conducted in various other schools across Hyderabad city. First, WEP team introduced the concept of "STEM" to young students. Lack of awareness and rhetorical stereotyping of STEM careers are some of the major causes of gender disparity within the field. These outreach sessions sensitize young female students to such stereotypes, directly working to dispel fear of STEM subjects, and make them seem more doable to young girls. After this, a vast list of female role models from Pakistan were shared in pictorial form, each time giving a small briefing about these women's lives, and their adherence to a mission of achievement. This section, termed as "Bari ho ker Kia Banogi?" (What do you want to become when you grow up?) was a game-changer as it opened the young minds to the many career streams that STEM fields and higher education can open for them. Ilm-o-Neroon Founder Rohaina Malik actively helped facilitate these sessions.
These interactive sessions aims to open the minds of young girls to the boundless opportunities afforded to them via STEM fields. The idea is to instigate an ambition within women and girls in Pakistan to not fall prey to cultural and patriarchal constraints, rather pursue modern higher education so that they too can play a role to catalyze progress for Pakistan.
Session 3 of the collaborative STEM Outreach sessions was conducted at GGHS, Madarsatul Banat. Student enrollment in this school was more per class, therefore this session was divided into two sections. Women Engineers Pakistan teams from LUMHS and Mehran University of Engineering and Technology (MUET) once again explained the many aspects of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields to young high school girls in this school. An interactive session ensued regarding the young students' career aspirations. This was done for two reasons: 1) To understand the current level for understanding regarding the opportunities available, and 2) to start a discourse about what more can be done in case the primary career objective can not be met. When not many aspiring scientists were discovered within the high school students, WEP Teams presented about the life stories of many Pakistani trailblazing women who achieved their educational or career milestones against all odds. Their audience listened attentively, immersed in the various examples of Pakistani women trailblazers in multiple fields. Ilm-o-Neroon Founder, the very talented Miss Rohaina Malik motivated the female students by explaining all available resources present at their disposal. She shed light on some of the inspirational work that her organization "Ilm-o-Neroon" is doing across Hyderabad city and its outskirts. In their own words, this organization "seeks to start informed conversation on educational issues of Hyderabad and Sindh".
The objective behind these interactive STEM outreach sessions is to a) motivate young girls to pursue an educational trajectory all the way to university, and b) to present relate-able and relevant role models to young Pakistani girls, who can inspire these young citizens to achieve goal 'a'. With the help of such collaborations, WEP is continuing its mission to make the pursuit of "Science for Progress" for every woman and girl in Pakistan.
The second session of a series of ten collaborative STEM Outreach events was conducted at the GGHS Latifabad by WEP representatives from Liaquat University of Medical and Health Sciences (LUMHS), and Ilm-o-Neroon. WEP Campus Ambassador Quratulain Narejo and team were able to grasp the student's attention by presenting examples of Pakistani women who were able to make a name for themselves despite all odds, especially those in STEM fields. More than 80 female high school students attended this outreach session.
Latifabad is within the southern outskirts of Hyderabad city, and government schools here are struggling to keep pace with the demands of modern world education. These collaborative STEM Outreach events conducted by Women Engineers Pakistan and Ilm-o-Neroon help motivate young girls to pursue further education, and not to succumb under pressure and drop out. These events highlight resources available for young girls, such as scholarships, internships etc. In addition, these sessions really ignite a spark not just for STEM education but for STEM excellence within these young high school girls by linking their own personal strengths to those required in the post-4th Industrial revolution world. The skills emphasized in these sessions include collaboration, presentation, math, coding, and management.
Few observations made by the team for this session included the fact that none of the young girls had much awareness regarding what engineers do, and when asked "Baray ho k kia banogi?" (what do you want to become when you grow up?), none of the young girls mentioned becoming an engineer as an aspiration. Also, while the school had a massive premises (compared to schools previously visited by WEP), the administration could not arrange for separate sessions and students from three different grade levels were merged into one sitting. However, once the STEM Outreach session started, things fell into place. The students actively participated, and the team left with high hopes.
Of course, Pakistan has no shortage of talent. All these young girls are looking for is awareness and direction. WEP's is therefore steadily on its mission to pave pathways where more and more women and girls from Pakistan can achieve heights within STEM fields. More power to Team LUMHS!
Editor's note: This article previously mentioned the administration not participating actively. This was an incorrect statement, as even in the photos teachers can be seen to participate. WEP acknowledges and corrects our mistake.
WEP Campus Chapter at Liaquat University of Medical and Health Sciences (LUMHS) collaborated with Ilm-o-Neroon to conduct STEM Outreach sessions in Hyderabad city and adjacent areas. Ilm-o-Neroon "seeks to start informed conversation on educational issues of Hyderabad and Sindh". This outreach session is part of a collaboration between both the organizations to target 10 girls higher secondary government schools for active STEM outreach.
The first session conducted in this series was at the Government Girls High School in Railway Colony, Hyderabad. WEP Campus Ambassador Quratulain Narejo and team started the conversation with high school girls by explaining the many branches of STEM education. The next section asked the question, "Baray ho k kia bango?" (what do you want to become when you grow up?). Not only did this section serve as an ice-breaker, it also presented the many career paths that can be derived from STEM degrees and higher education. WEP team then presented a lot of Pakistani female role models, emphasizing on their identity as Pakistani, making it more convenient for the younger girls to directly relate to these established, accomplished women. Some examples of the presented role models include tech giant Jehan Ara, the all-girls team from NUST that won at Formula Car racing student competition, and motivational wiz Shireen Naqvi. Founder Ilm-o-Neroon, Rohaina Malik shed some light upon the the best ways to choose a career of one's liking and interest. A STEM-based quiz was conducted to create more motivation, but also to gauge some direct conclusions: whether or not the young girls had been paying attention. Results: They Listened Every Word!
One issue with the session observed by the WEP team was the lack of interest from the school's administration. None of the teachers stayed back for finding out what the STEM Outreach session was about, and did not check in throughout the event. This was disheartening, but with much positivity derived from the students' response, WEP hopes that government schools in Pakistan would actively participate in STEM education for girls in the coming future.
The session ended with students filling in WEP's counselling form, with a new motivation to step into higher education and especially STEM education.