Women into STEM: an international vision

FemEng Rwanda is an innovative student-led project inspiring young women into engineering.

femeng_logoStudents from the University of Glasgow and the University of Rwanda will work together to deliver engineering activities for female high school students.

We interviewed Ellen Simmons, who will be travelling to Rwanda this summer with 7 other students.


What inspired you and your fellow students to start this project?
We were approached by someone who suggested that we send a group of primarily female engineers to embark on an overseas project as a means of showing what women were achieving in this field. This idea stuck and we took it to John Briggs, the Vice-Principal of the University of Glasgow (and International Dean for Africa) to discuss the prospects of such an endeavour.

Why did you decide to work with students in Rwanda?

The Rwandan Government have similar goals to ours in terms of promoting STEM to all genders, in the hope of establishing equality and empowering more women to pursue these types of careers. There has recently been a big push in this area over there, and it seemed a good opportunity to share our skills and common objectives to establish an international connection.

What support are you looking for to complete your project?

There are three ways in which people can support this project.

  1. Firstly, sponsorship or donations towards the project as a whole. Any extra funding we receive goes towards enhancing the time for those involved: extra resources, subsistence for the Rwandan teams, trips around Rwanda to STEM-related centres, etc.
  2. Secondly, we are always happy to accept resources for the workshops we will be holding – the more we have, the better the experience for the schoolchildren.
  3. Finally, you can support our project by sharing our social media campaign and helping to spread the word about the initiative. Ultimately, we are women in STEM who want to support the next and current generations, and let people of all genders know that they have equal opportunities in this field.

What’s your advice to students looking to encourage young women into STEM?

The most important thing you can do in my opinion is to be a role model, and make sure that they know exactly what STEM can hold for them. Many young people just don’t know enough about STEM careers and what lies ahead of their studies. I recently attended an event where one of the speakers reminded us “you can’t be what you can’t see”. The more diverse the range of students we have promoting STEM, the more diverse the influx of interest we will see from younger individuals.

For more information or to support FemEng, check out their blog and Facebook page.

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