It’s not up to young women to be interested in technology, but up to their teachers to find ways to make the subject appealing to them, says Junkbot CEO Ehteshamuddin Puttur Abdul.
It’s a fresh way of looking at the issue of low female participation in the sciences. The trick, educators say, is to get them while they’re young.
Gems Education innovation leader Christine Nasserghodsi told Wamda in July that evidence showed girls’ interest in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) subjects started to drop between grades six and eight.
In the Middle East, within the booming market for robotics and technology courses for children, are several specifically targeted at girls such as a six-week Gems and GE courses in Abu Dhabi and a Girls Got IT event in Lebanon in March which attracted 400 teenagers.
Eureka Tech Academy founder Afnan Ali said these kinds of courses were critical to filling gaps in tech education in the Middle East, and to keeping up with “exponentially growing” interest from both girls and boys.
As MENA looks down the barrel of a youth population explosion with over 100 million Arabs aged between 15 and 29, the highest proportion of youth to adults in the region’s history, it is essential to equip youth with the skills to succeed in a modern economy, wrote former Wamda Research Lab analyst William Altman.
But while STEM education is geared towards boys, using the mechanics of a car engine to explain a physics theory, for example, the challenge is to bring girls into the field as well.
As the video above shows, this is not difficult. Teachers have to recalibrate the way they think to pique the interest of young women before they are lost to science forever.