Mr Andrew Alli, a banker and an investor, has stressed the need for corporates to encourage girls and women to embrace opportunities in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education.
Alli gave the advice at the FirstBank Women Network International Women’s Day event with the theme, “Embrace Equity’’, on Wednesday in Lagos.
He said that the opportunities in the STEM education were enormous and if properly tapped would enhance the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
Alli said that the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) sector had recorded tremendous growth and presently contribute about 18 per cent to the GDP from two or three per cent recorded in the years past.
He, however, noted that female participation in the technology space was not encouraging.
“So, I think that this is the time to try and change that narrative around what happens in technology companies; though, a number of those companies are already starting to do this,’’ he said.
Alli noted that women were underrepresented because men were the ones doing the funding.
He said there was the need for female executives to change the narrative and encourage more girls and women to participate actively in the sector. Alli enjoined them to use technology as a tool for female inclusion, recruitment and screening to remove some of the bias and bring more women on board the workforce.
Dr Adesola Adeduntan, Chief Executive Officer of First Bank of Nigeria Ltd., said that the bank had made good progress in addressing gender imbalance in the institution.
“We are not yet where we would like to be but we are very clear in terms of the direction of travel, we are very clear in terms of what we are doing to ensure that we have more women go through the pipeline and get to the top.
“Today, we have two executives that are female, we have a number of ladies that are general managers, at the deputy general manager level, and we have several females.
“But, our objective remains that in the very near future, we would have the first female chief executive officer of FirsBank, and I could see that in the making.
“I have had the privilege of working with virtually everyone here, I see the brain, I see the resilience, I see the tenacity, I see the urge to succeed, the hunger to succeed which for me is even probably much more important,’’ Adeduntan said.
Earlier, Mrs Olaitan Martins, Chairman, First Bank Women Network, called on women not to be afraid of pursuing their interest in innovation and technology.
Martins urged them to take advantage of the numerous resources available for learning and growth.
“ There are about 27 per cent of tech related jobs and women are underrepresented in STEM, this gap can truly be bridged and it starts with us.
“We have the power to break this barrier and pave the way for the future generation of women in innovation and technology, we need to participate actively more and contribute new perspectives with our unique creativity and problem solving skills.
“We don’t need to be afraid, sometimes we think technology is too difficult. We should not be afraid to pursue our interest in innovation and technology and there are numerous resources available for our learning and growing.
“So, together we can bring down the gender barrier in technology and innovation and create a more diverse and inclusive world for us all, so I encourage you all to subscribe, take that bold step, develop interest and we will assist you,’’ she said.
Prof. Olayinka David-West, Academic Director and Senior Fellow in the Operations, Information Systems and Marketing Division of Lagos Business School, urged women to be change makers and social problem solvers.
“So when we talk about change makers, there are different types and I think we all fit into different categories of change makers.
“First of all, we have social architects, influencers, skill catalyzers; we could be inventors, putting financial resources into development, we could be inventors creating new things and also connectors,’’ she said.
FirstBank Women Network was established to address the gender gap at the senior levels and tap the opportunities presented by enabling our women to contribute even more if given the necessary strategic support and an intentional enabling environment. (NAN)(www.nannews.ng)