Good morning everyone. It is an honor for me to welcome the 16-member delegation of senior tech executives and professionals from the Silicon Valley who promote STEM education and technology in the United States.
These delegation members represent organizations as diverse as Twitter, LinkedIn, Netflix, and Mozilla. Among them are also representatives of Autodesk, WomenCollege Tech, Stanford Graduate School of Business, Juniper Networks, Fairrer Samani Group, Northgate Environmental Management, Jessica Dickinson Goodman Consulting, and the Institute of International Education.
In particular, I’d like to welcome Carolyn Ward, our colleague from the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs who is accompanying this group of tech leaders.
Our special thanks go to Cedar STEM & Entrepreneurship Hub of Lonadek for hosting this august gathering.
The American consulate is pleased to sponsor this series of seminars and trainings by leading women technology leaders from Nigeria and the United States who are actively advocating for women in science, engineering, and technology. I know everyone here cares about STEM education. That’s why you are here. The reason is simple: STEM education is the key foundation for any country’s economic success.
Sadly, many young women who pursue studies in STEM at tertiary institutions share stories of being grossly outnumbered by men. In workplaces, women in STEM fields face discriminatory practices and behaviors from colleagues and supervisors including compensation at lower levels than male counterparts for their labor. They also generally lack opportunities for coaching, mentoring, and growth compared to their male colleagues.
Here’s the blunt truth: without women’s inclusive participation, any gains in economic growth and development as well as advances in science and technology would be lopsided and unsustainable. Therefore, it is critical that women’s voices, at all levels, find representation in collaborative solutions that will have an impact on them.
The U.S. government is convinced that when barriers to women’s full participation in STEM fields are removed, women do better, families do better, countries do better, and the world does better. Whether at home or abroad, promoting women in STEM fields is a top priority of the U.S. government.
When Ambassador Symington opened the American Space in Yaba in 2017, co-hosted by Co-Creation Hub (CCHUB), he pledged the U.S. government’s support for additional projects that might expand the use of technology in Nigeria.
We have since funded a number of projects to increase STEM education in different parts of the country. In October 2017, we hosted RoboRAVE, a robotics education program in Lagos and Abeokuta. Last December, we funded the establishment of a technology hub in Lagos that will host training and mentoring sessions for persons living with disabilities in various technology-based skills.
The goal of encouraging the role of girls and women in STEM fields has been the cornerstone of the technology-learning programs funded by the U.S. Mission in Nigeria.
More broadly, the United States has invested millions of dollars to directly advance gender equality across sub-Saharan Africa, through activities that promote political and economic opportunities for women, access to health and education services, and efforts to prevent and respond to gender-based violence.
In 2011, the U.S. government introduced the TechWomen program to empower the next generation of women leaders in the technology field. This exchange program brings together women in Northern California with their counterparts in the Middle East, Central Asia, North Africa, and sub-Saharan Africa including Nigeria for a professional mentorship at leading technology companies in the U.S.
I understand that some of the Nigerian Fellows of TechWomen program are in this room. I urge every female tech leader here today to meet with these alums and learn from them, particularly the application process for this prestigious exchange program.
In closing, I strongly encourage everyone here to think broadly about ways you or your organizations can form partnerships and expand your network as women STEM leaders.
I hope that you will all take what you learn and spread your knowledge beyond this group. I also hope today will serve as a valuable opportunity to pledge a cstrong commitment to inspiring the next generation of girls and young women in STEM fields.