Webinar for Women Graduates in STEM in Sub-Saharan Africa

Hosted by Dr Boksun Kim of the University of Plymouth, RAEng Frontiers Champion, 24 May 2023

Building professional capacity and Continuing Professional Development for women graduates in STEM in Sub-Saharan Africa

By Dr Dorothy Okello of Makerere University, Uganda
Dr Dorothy Okello is the Dean of College of Engineering, Design, Art and Technology at Makerere University in Uganda. She is also the Director of Innovation at Resilient Africa Network, which seeks to identify and scale innovative solutions that will strengthen the resilience of African communities. Dr Okello is a Fellow of the Uganda National Academy of Sciences and a member of the Uganda Institution of Professional Engineers, where she served as the first female President from 2016 to 2018.
Summary of the presentation
Dr Okello will share her experiences as a leader with over twenty-five years of diverse experience in teaching, researching, as well as conducting projects and contributing to policies including serving on diverse boards in education, telecommunications/ICT, banking and innovation. She has won several national and international awards over the years including being featured in 12 Top Technology People in East Africa, who are technologists with a social twist by Enterprise Technology Magazine in September 2012, and more recently being a recipient of the Distinguished Medal of the Crested Crane during the 2023 Women’s Day celebrations. She will guide you how to build professional capacity and Continuing Professional Development in your career.

Challenges for women graduates in STEM to access job markets in Sub-Saharan Africa

By Meseret Teweldebrihan of Haramaya University, Ethiopia
Dr Meseret Teweldebrihan is an advisor, Socio-hydrology, GIS, Gender, climate and adaptation expert working in multi-sectoral environments for more than ten years. Meseret has solid experience in turning the most challenging experiences into the best achievements of her professional career to benefit her community. She works as a consultant and involved in different projects. 
Her work is mainly on climate change with gender-sensitive, hydrology, irrigation optimization, socio-hydrology, hydraulic engineering, land and water development and related fields.
Summary of the presentation
The presentation is aimed to share some experiences and challenges of women graduates in STEM to access job markets, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa. As known, it is the era of femininity and women, they can have far greater opportunities in social, political, and commercial activities. Following that, practically in Sub-Saharan Africa, women in STEM are facing difficulty in getting a chance to pursue their careers and getting jobs equally as of men’s. Consequently, there is still no equity in power distribution and decision-making between men and women at all levels of the government structure and local institutions. Hence, the presentation will include facts and challenges of women in STEM in getting jobs from past experiences and exposures in addition to findings. It will also include other critical points such as Freedom of speech, from fear, to vote, to enslavement, of choice, of religion, from violence and abuse. It will pose the following questions.
  • What has changed/progressed for women in the 21st century?
  • What remains the same/ what are the problems that continue to exist today?

Work ethics and issues on sexual harassment at work in Sub-Saharan Africa 

By Mrs Stella Kokwenda Banyenza of Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority
Mrs Banyenza is a Principal Engineer at Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority and professionally registered with Engineers Registration Board in Tanzania. With more than 13 years working experience, she is an expert in Radio monitoring and Spectrum Management, RF Transmission System, Mobile Broadband and IPTV Technologies the Advanced Wireless Communication as well as Wireless Networking. 
Internationally, she chaired the ATU-Task Group AfriSAP, which developed the 1st edition of Africa Spectrum Allocation Plan and presently she is the Vice Chairperson of Working Group 5, ATU Working Groups for the preparation of WRC 23 and the Lead Champion on WRC 23 Agenda Item 1.11 at ATU Level.
Summary of the presentation
The presentation will dwell on the definition of the work ethics and sexual harassment as the topic tries to find the relationship between them at work particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa, highlighting gender inequality as the key issue, which leads to gender discrimination. Types and causes of sexual harassments will be clearly mentioned and defined
It will also highlight the magnitude of the problem globally in various professions and narrow down to Sub-Saharan Africa, pointing out the existence of the existing code of conduct at workplaces and their impact on the mitigation of the problem. A number of findings from different researchers will be discussed. The ethic implications for sexual harassment will also be in spotlight by making a comparison between the responsibilities of the employers and the working environment.
Finally, the conclusion will be drawn as to the way-forward towards the elimination of sexual harassment at work place then the discussion of the presentation will follow.

Empowering women in STEM in Sub-Saharan Africa 

By Mrs Sarah Kabahuma of COMESA, Tanzania
Mrs Sarah Kabahuma is an ICT / Digital development expert. She is a Corporate Member of the Uganda Institution of Professional Engineers, a member of the Uganda Engineers Registration Board and a member of the Uganda Institute of Corporate Governance. 
Sarah aspires to determine, contribute and participate in the work geared on how technology can result in economic development in low-income communities and marginalized communities. Her career goal is therefore to provide possibilities towards enhancing development in low- and middle-income countries through initiating the right policies, strategies and projects using ICT and digital technologies for economic and sustainable development and digital transformation.
Summary of the presentation
There are general observations and downside in STEM workplaces. Some of these include that the field is male dominated. There is little consideration for women-based requirements or needs and there are gender and cultural biases when it comes to leadership and in some instance, women lack confidence. These limitations inhibit the impact and influence that women bring into STEM. To empower women in STEM in Sub-Saharan Africa, there is need for affirmative action to ensure that women’s presence and contributions are recognised, felt and encouraged.
Key actions to be taken is empowering the leadership and management skills of women working in STEM. The discussion during the webinar will focus on the methods and approaches that should be adopted to ensure these skills in order to break gender biases and promote women involvement in STEM.
There is also need for an enabling work environment that ensures the longevity of women in STEM. Discussions will focus on what employers can do to ensure that workplace environment policies are conducive for women.
It is vital that the experienced women walk a journey with the younger. This will restore strength, build confidence, and thus promote growth of women involvement in STEM. The webinar will also discuss areas around how fellow women could help each other.