Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : October 22nd 2013 Contents A45
Tuesday, October 22, 2013 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
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The Mortgagee does not bind itself to accept the highest or any offer.
Anne-Marie Imafidon is in a rush
to get on with life. Perhaps that is why
she passed a GCSE (O Level) in com-
puter science aged ten, became the
youngest graduate to attain a masters
degree, aged 19, and is already plan-
ning the future of her unborn chil-
And if daughters come along she is
clear that she doesn t want them to
"feel like the odd ones out," if they
decide, like her, to pursue a career in
As a self-confessed stubborn woman,
she hopes she can succeed where others
have failed---in reducing the huge gap
between girls and boys studying so-
called Stem subjects---science, tech-
nology, engineering and maths.
To do this, she has set up Stemettes,
which she runs when she isn t in her
day job at a global investment bank.
She was one of just three girls in a
class of 70 studying maths and com-
puter science at university.
"At the time I wasn t that bothered,
I just thought it was part and parcel of
studying computer science," she says.
"But then last year I spoke at a
conference and I heard that the num-
bers of women in technology
was in decline and I thought,
That isn t right.
"Technology is at the forefront
of the economy and women have
a vital role to play. When my
daughters are born I don t want
them to feel like the odd ones
The UK has a massive skills
gap. Only 17 per cent of the UK s
tech jobs are held by women. In
Stem subjects generally women
make up just 13 per cent of the
workforce. In engineering
women fare even worse, taking
up just eight per cent of the jobs.
At secondary school, girls are
as likely as boys to study Stem
subjects, at least up to GCSE,
but for A-levels and beyond,
female representation drops off
And among girls who carry
on and study science at univer-
sity, two out of three don t go
on to Stem-related careers.
The reasons for the drop-off
in interest are multiple, thinks
"Some schools, often girl-only
schools, simply don t offer ICT
[information and communica-
tions technology] at A-level and
the girls wanting to do it have
to go to a nearby boys school to
learn it," she says.
"In other schools, computer
science often clashes with things
like drama or music, meaning
the girls can t do both. If every
other girl is doing drama, you d
want to be in a class with all
your friends rather than take the
difficult route and do computer
Girls are very aware that their
choice of A-level subjects
impacts what they study at uni-
versity and which one they go
to. It means that girls tend to
choose "safe" subjects that they
know they will get a good grade
in, according to Ms Imafidon.
"Choosing computer science
is an unnecessarily tough choice
and one you aren t going to
make unless you are one of the
stubborn girls like I was," she
It isn t like that everywhere.
Brazil punches above its
weight, ranking highest overall
in the representation of women
in science and technology,
according to a report from
Women in Global Science and
Much of that is down to pro-
grammes that support women
in the workforce, good funding
for education and research and
support of female entrepreneur-
South Africa and India also
For Imafidon, it is because
ITC has a very different image
and status in these countries.
"In India if you go into tech-
nology, it is because you want
to do well and get ahead in life.
If you see a well-dressed women
walking down the street, you
don t ask is she a lawyer or a
banker but is she working in IT,"
The aim of Stemettes and
other sister organisations is to
replicate in the West what is
happening in the developing
To facilitate that, the group
runs events around the country
aimed at getting girls interested
in technology. Girls are intro-
duced to a range of women
already working in Stem subjects
and are invited to take part in
events such as hackathons.
"We get them making mobile
apps, data visualisations, having
fun," says Imafidon.
The fact that they can do all
this surrounded by other girls
makes them more confident.
"Coding clubs are dominated
by boys. We want to make our
club as normal for girls as ballet,"
says Ms Imafidon.
At the end of the month the
group will host a hackathon in
Oxford, and in November it is run-
ning an exhibition at the Crystal
in London s docklands.
Girls aged from seven to 22 will
be invited to take a variety of work-
shops, including dance and science,
3D printing and one on nuclear
The goal of Stemettes and its
sister organisations is to get the
women in the Stem workforce up
to 30 per cent by 2020. (BBC)
Why tech needs a makeover to attract girls
British science prodigy Anne-Marie Imafidon is determined help more
girls to get into science as a career. PHOTO COURTESY IMAFIDON.COM
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