Building a Pipeline of Female STEM Professionals Across MENAT, One Workshop at a Time
May 24, 2023
Around the world, more women than men (53% vs 47%) are graduating with bachelor and master degrees. Yet, only 25% of university graduates in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields are women.
In the workplace, the situation globally is even more unbalanced, with women accounting for only 15% of engineers globally, and just 22% of people working in artificial intelligence (AI).
Numbers like this highlight the importance of ongoing activities led by GE in cooperation with nonprofit partners across the Middle East, North Africa and Turkey region to encourage young people, but especially female high school and university students, to consider choosing STEM field of study in university and pursuing STEM careers after graduation.
Since December 2021, GE has hosted at least six events in five countries to further this goal, including several held with longtime regional partner INJAZ al Arab, an organization that promotes youth education and training in workforce readiness, financial literacy and entrepreneurship across the Arab World.
The most recent, hosted alongside climate action organization UAE Independent Climate Change Accelerators (UICCA) and INJAZ UAE, engaged more than 100 university students from the UAE, 70% of whom were women. With the participation of executive leadership from GE, UICCA, INJAZ, and the US Department of State, the students were challenged to use critical thinking skills to come up with innovative solutions to the country’s energy transition.
In Egypt, a workshop led in conjunction with INJAZ Egypt for more than 100 female students featured a series of empowering STEM activities that gave them opportunities to engage in real-life STEM thinking and problem solving. They also connected with inspiring female role models working in STEM field.
The 15- and 16-year-old students from the Othman Ibn Affan Language School in New Cairo City were divided into teams of 10-12 students for a STEM-based energy challenge led by INJAZ and GE Volunteers. Each team was challenged to come up with viable, feasible, and innovative solutions that they presented to a panel of judges. The winning team will visit a power plant in Cairo equipped with GE technology.
In Kuwait, GE hosted more than 100 female high school students at the GE Kuwait Technology Center. Organized in collaboration with INJAZ-Kuwait, the event promoted hands-on learning and aimed to foster vital problem-solving, analytical and critical thinking skills.
The students toured the facility, including the tooling center bays where technicians equip huge shipping containers with parts and complex machinery used to maintain and repair gas turbines and generators, and the R&D testing labs, where engineers conduct analysis, oil and fuel testing, and material assessments, as well as provide monitoring and diagnostics for gas turbines. They also attended presentations and connected with inspiring female role models in STEM fields.
Working with INJAZ UAE, GE hosted a “STEM for the Next 50” Innovation Camp for more than 200 female high school students who were challenged to use critical thinking and problem-solving skills to find innovative solutions to concerns regarding the energy transition in the country.
The six members of the winning team earned the opportunity to job shadow engineers working on advanced aircraft engines at GE Aviation’s On Wing Support Center in Dubai. They also learned about career options in the aviation industry.
Similar energy transition challenge events were held in Saudi Arabia and Turkey.
The event in Saudi Arabia was conducted in collaboration with Saudi nonprofit Mawhiba for more than 150 male and female high school students at the “STEM Future GEneration Camp.” Hosted at the GE Manufacturing & Technology Center (GEMTEC) campus in Dammam, the event prompted students to work in teams to find innovative solutions to challenges around the Kingdom’s energy transition by tapping into their critical thinking and problem-solving skills.
In Turkey, the GE Turkey Women’s Network, in collaboration with the Çağdaş Yaşamı Destekleme Derneği (Association for Supporting Contemporary Life), organized the “Our Future Face” event for 100 female university students.
The students learned about the energy transition and GE’s sustainability strategies, and explored GE’s support for early-career engineers. Student groups were then paired with GE mentors for an innovation competition to develop and present an impactful sustainability project. The Our Future Faces experience was so valuable, the winning group asked for job shadowing opportunities rather than gifts.
Read more here about how GE helps promote youth and workforce development, interest in STEM fields, and diversity across the Middle East, North Africa, and Turkey region.