From the Lenses of the African Science Academy (ASA) students, reflecting on the profound impact of African Women in the fields of STEM


Let’s paint a mental picture, a young girl in a rural village, perhaps your sister or a friend, her eyes gleaming with curiosity as she watches her mother tend to the crops, her grandmother concocts herbal remedies, or her aunt weaves intricate patterns into cloth.

These seemingly mundane activities are the first lessons in resourcefulness, problem-solving, and innovation. Little does the young girl know, these lessons will lay the foundation for her future contributions to the world of STEM.

Women, the unsung heroes. Their works resonate across fields and pivotal impacts beyond previously thought limits. Without these great inventors, such as Dr.Rebecca Enonchong, the world may have never seen the electronic payment system and several epochal inventions. And although their roles may not always be obvious or celebrated at large, their actions have inspired many, nurturing the next generation of influential figures in STEM by instilling a strong affinity for creativity in the hearts of several young women.

On days when our minds are clouded with doubt or in need of motivation, we, the students of the African Science Academy, reflect on the transformative works of these remarkable women of color who have made waves in the dynamic ocean of science, technology, and leadership. Whether by recalling the awe-inspiring actions of the women whose names grace our dorm walls such as Katherine Johnson and Ameena Gurib or the relentless efforts of freedom fighters such as Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti, Wangari Maathai, and Mabel Dove-Danquah, we find comfort in the knowledge of the greatness that we one day hope to achieve.

The ambitions of the African woman are endless and the lengths to which she pursues them is limitless. African women have long begun defying stereotypes in traditionally male-dominated fields. A prominent example is Dr. Gladys West who was inducted into the Air Force Space and Missile Pioneers Hall of Fame. Despite her humble beginnings, Dr.Gladys West, the mathematician whose calculations brought about the invention of the Global Positioning System (GPS) and discoveries related to planetary bodies, challenged previous beliefs. She is proof that a dream is a reality waiting to happen and serves as a reminder of the important role that women play in science.

Additionally, Professor Nneka Okeke, a physicist and L’Oreal-UNESCO Award winner for Women in Science in recognition of her noteworthy contributions to understanding climate change and her exceptional work in the field of physics, researched geomagnetism, atmospheric physics, and climate variability. Her groundbreaking research has provided valuable insights into the complex interplay between the sun, the Earth’s magnetic field, and the climate, helping us better understand and predict natural disasters. Her work is a testament to the power of human curiosity and ingenuity and serves as an inspiration to all those who seek to unlock the secrets of the universe.

From pioneering medical breakthroughs and renewable energy to leading groundbreaking engineering projects and advocating for inclusive policies, African women like Dr Mary N.W. Ayisi, inventor of an anti-malaria drug and others are creating a ripple effect of positive change and hope for future generations across Africa.

But perhaps the most profound impact of African women in STEM lies in their role as nurturers of talent and champions of diversity. Behind every successful engineer, doctor, or scientist, there is a mother, a sister, a teacher, or a mentor who believed in their potential and supported their dreams. Through their encouragement, guidance, and unwavering support, they are paving the way for a more inclusive and equitable future in STEM.

Whilst reflecting on International Women’s Day, we focus the spotlight on the many African women and their contributions to the world of STEM. Let us celebrate their resilience, creativity, and unwavering determination to make a difference, not just for themselves, but for generations to come. For in their stories lie the untold narratives of courage, innovation, and hope that inspires us all to dream bigger, reach higher, and strive for a better world.

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