Shattering the Glass ceiling: Five talking points for Women in Engineering in 2021

By Isqil Najim

In 1986, six courageous women stepped out of the shadow to take the country by storm. Little did anyone gave them chance that the body which started as a pressure group t protest marginal involvement of female engineers in engineering practice will become a strong national focus. With consistency, the group which comprises Engr Joanna Olufunmbi Maduka soon became raying port for the women in engineers. It was subsequently recognized as a Division of Nigerian Society of Engineers. The Association, through the years worked harder to evolved varying programmes, projects and innovative approaches into not just grooming leaders, but also ensuring that women engineers develop their capacity to compete in the make dominated profession.

Through the years, records has been made and achievements have been recorded. APWEN approach is built around three pronged legs. Advancing professionalism among women in engineering by ensuring that female engineers who are trained are able to practice and compete, providing Younger graduates opportunities and supports to go all ahead to to practice as against some dropping out to non-engineering career, and catching them young through encouraging and initiating programmes that draw young girls into Science with bias for engineering, from young age.

2021 is a year to remember for women in engineering in Nigeria. Despite the pandemic, there are so much to write about in  resounding ovation of the association.

The year started with determination of the body to increase the tempo of their activities towards empowering their members. The Outgoing President, undeterred by the pandemic that has stuffed their ability for the most of last year, has come stronger through innovation in technology and others

Africa Engineers Gets First woman President

Ing. Mrs Carlien Bao Chedid, the Structural andEarthquakeEngineer from Ghana set the stake for the year when she was officially inaugurated as the first Female president of Federation of African Engineering Organizations. The umbrella body of the Africa’s Engineering Associations with over 50 countries member. She became the fifth President of the Organization. The inauguration which comes on January 29, 2021 at Marriot Hotel Airport, Accra Ghana opens the floodgate of many other good news for women in engineering as it was to be followed up with series of activities.

She holds a B.Sc in Civil Engineering from University of Surrey and Msc in Earthquake Engineering and Structural Dynamics from Imperial College of Science, technology and Medicine, UK. She has previously set record in her home country as the first Female president of the Ghana Institute of Engineers.

NASENI sent strong signal to other Government bodies

The quest for gender inclusivity was given a strong impetus by the President Mohammadu Buhari through the Minister of Science and technology, Engr Dr Ogbonnaya Onu with an affirmative action. On August, the apex agency, constituted a new Board into its National institutes with radical departure from the past. All the Institutes have a woman on the board. Each of them outstanding and deserving of the position.

This is a victory to gender driven advocacies aiming to integrate women engineers in our national policies. APWEN has actively championed this cause and is now reaping the fruits. We only hope other establishments wll follow the example of NASENI.

Tools and Tiaras- Beauty, Brain and engineering

One of the big challenges with female in engineering is that many do not get to practice after graduation and this deprived the large pool of manpower. Especially as experience have shown that women are equally capable as their male counterparts. It is to encourage the younger ones that the APWEN and Tranos Limited, a manufacturing outfit in Lagos embarked on collaboration to train women engineers.

Town and gowns

The project is sponsored by  Worley Foundation as part of its commitment to support STEM Education, Diversity & Inclusion Projects that would impact communities where Worley Operates. Town and Gown is a programme designed to bridge the employability gap between young female engineering graduates and the industry. This Industry-Focused Capacity Building held across the six geopolitical zones in Nigeria, is a Mentoring programme to help bridge the employability gap of young female engineering graduates, make them employable and fit for the industry.

The mission and vision of APWEN Town and Gown Series is to: Offer quality mentorship to young female engineers and the undergraduate female students in engineering. To create a pool of ready-now female engineers for the industry and excellent ground for the recruitment of young bright talents. APWEN believe carrying out this program will assist the nation to attain sustainable development goals.

President Funmilola Ojelade  Won the Harvard’sDerek Bok Leadershipprize

The President of the Association, Engr Funmilola Ojelade was a recipient of Harvard’s Drek Bok Public Service Prize 2021. The Award, making her perhaps the first Nigerian to win came on the heel of her leadership of the Association of Professional Women Engineers of Nigeria and many other community services. She received the award during the commencement (graduation ceremony) recognizing creative initiatives in community services or long standing records of civil achievement among graduates.. Not only that, she also made the Dean’s list for the year Harvard graduation Set.

FAEO launches Sheroes Most influential Women Award

In a bid to recognize the achievements of Women in engineering in Africa, the president of Federation of African Engineering organizations, Ing Carlien Bou Chedid through its Women in Engineering Committee led by Engr Yetunde Holloway initiated an effort by the continental body to recognized and celebrate women engineers who are doing amazing things or are pioneers in their industry. It is no longer news that engineering is a male dominate profession, but women are bracing the odds to pave the way for the future of many more who will be inspired by their success.

63 Years after, Nigeria gets first female Deputy President

To crown the eventful year the women in engineering received the most glaring trophy when the Nigerian Society of Engineers, the umbrella body of Nigeria engineers and arguably the larges engineering body in Africa elected its first female Deputy President in person of Engineer Margaret Aina Oguntala at their 2021 Annual General meeting.

The election which was closely contested was the first time a woman is clinching the position in the 63 years history of the Society. Many courageous women however have worked harder and pushed for inclusivity. What made this even more gladdening is that the women worked with their males colleagues to make the history happen. Nigerian Society of Engineers have been an active supporter of women in leadership with Council for the Regulation of Engineering in Nigeria, COREN having given a nod to the inclusivity policy months ago.

Before now, the country has only has women leadership in Academy of Engineering in person of Engr Olu Maduka, the first registered female engineer in Nigeria and the founder of Association for Professional Women Engineers of Nigeria, APWEN.

If you are a woman engineer and you are not in APWEN, you are probably missing a lot! May the 2022 ushers in more glory to the profession.

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