Social workers and policy makers have spent a lot of time and effort on research trying to understand the disparity between genders in regards to science related careers. Although over the centuries employment laws have opened doors to opportunities for women to enter the employment force, women have had a difficult time engaging and penetrating the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) related careers. STEM careers remain male dominated. The statistical variances are even larger between the different STEM areas. Women who engage in STEM have been more inclined to venture into sciences as opposed to math and engineering.
Studies in the US have suggested that this difference could be because of masculine cultures that may signal a lower sense of belonging for women, lack of early exposure and gender gaps in self-efficacy. (Cheryan et.al).
In Kenya and sub-Sahara Africa, the percentage of women in STEM is even more dismal compared to the West. Not only do fewer women participate, but even fewer complete their studies. The number of women enrolled in STEM studies, decreases as students go through their studies in what Dr Wandiri, at the Kenyatta University, Kenya termed as a “leaking pipeline.” Additional factors such as, stereotypes and the notion that STEM disciplines negatively affect career development, personal decisions like finding a spouse and family life have attributed to the lack of women involvement in STEM in Africa.
The influence of a girl child’s education is important in the effort to eradicate poverty and achieve food security. Zaidi-STEM aims to facilitate breaking of stereotypes mentioned above and facilitating opportunities for students who are thriving in STEM by proving mentors and emotional support and where possible, financial support to keep the girl child, not only to keep her in school but also being open to STEM focused disciples and careers.
Zaidi-STEM founder, Njeri Mwaniki was born in a family where she and her siblings were the first in the family-line to attend school past their technical training and high school. Her mother Ndia is one out of eleven children who attended school and was able to have a career. A British Missionary, who took personal interest in her education and personal development and mentored her through school, defined the life that the rest of her siblings and children would have; enabling Ndia to educate her siblings and their children, educated Ndia. It is with this in mind that Njeri Mwaniki began mentoring girls in her community, leading to the ideologies behind Zaidi.See more