INITIATIVES AND ROLE OF WOMEN SCIENTIST FORUMS WITH MENTORSHIP OPPORTUNITIES IN STEM
Women scientists are strategically positioned to drive the current initiatives for achieving targeted sustainable development goals (SDGs). Many women are celebrated today, who have made significant contributions in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM), despite hurdles they have been faced with in their science careers. Engaging in normal scientific collaborations was difficult for some of them and simply impossible for others. They were not encouraged by the predominantly male environments of university and business worlds, barred from the communities in which male scientists met and conversed, these women in science struggled against discrimination based on gender. While many of these women have been nearly lost to history in a changing world, some achieved such pinnacles as the Nobel Prize by surmounting these hurdles. This paper investigates factors that inhibit women in science. To this end, a survey design based on random sampling technique using a questionnaire instrument was designed, to retrieve information from individuals engaged in science careers. The study population involved one hundred and fourteen post-graduate science students of the University of Benin. Data was collected and analyzed using SPSS 20.0 for descriptive and inferential statistics. The result revealed that females view mentorship as a very important factor towards their career progression in STEM, but 29% lacked mentors. 73% of the women were not aware of women scientist forums with mentorship opportunities. They were faced with the barrier of funding, lack of mentors and personally encountered gender bias amongst other barriers. From our result, it is evident that the role of mentors to mentees and women scientist initiatives alongside forums with mentoring activities, cooperation, networking and collaborative groups is needed to increase the participation of women and girls in STEM. It is recommended that mentoring forums and strategies should be adopted in schools and organizations to encourage girls and women in science.
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