Lagos State Deputy Governor, Idiat Adebule has urged parents to champion the campaign to demystify the belief that girls are not suited for science-related careers. She spoke at the SHE Science and Technology Fair, organised by the Christopher Kolade Foundation (CKF) at Habour Point, Victoria Island, Lagos. Dr Adebule, represented by the Permanent Secretary in the Deputy Governor’s office, Mrs Yetunde Odejayi, underscored the need to boost girls’ confidence to take up STEM careers. She said: “Though currently girls and women remain under represented in the science and technology fields, this is not as a result of difference in intellectual capacity, but due to stereotypes of parents, who believe it is awkward for girls pursuing successful career paths in this field. “The challenge is, therefore, on all stakeholders, including parents, the teachers and the society to help change the mindset of our girls and demystify the falsehood about science and technology being the stronghold or exclusive rights of boys.’’ CKF did just that at the event as it paraded an array of successful women in STEM, who shared their stories with over 532 SS2 and SS3 pupils being supported by the Foundation to embrace Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). A panel of three women scientists moderated by Mrs Oreoluwa Lesi, Chief Executive Officer, Women’s Technology Centre (W.TEC), advised the girls to follow their dreams, put in hard work, and develop themselves. Cummins West Africa Sales leader, Mrs Margaret Ajiboye, revealed how her engineering education and passion for fixing things led her to product specialisation, sales and a stint as lecturer. She said she was driven by the desire to develop those coming behind. For Mrs Olamide Ayeni-Babajide of Pearl Recycling, life began to take shape following a challenge from her father when she was only seven and wanted to give up because of bullying that she could be the best regardless of what others did around her. She spoke of how her exceptional brilliance led her to a rapid education and successful computer engineering career where she earned as much as 35,000 dollars. However, she said she gave it all up to pursue her passion, to rid Lagos of waste, by turning waste tyres into furniture, jewelry and others. “I earned my pay as an engineer. I worked for six years with my computer engineering certificate. I got almost 10 international certifications. I was being paid $35,000. But I woke up one day and wanted to resign. I asked myself what I would do if I was not afraid. I told myself I would change the face of waste problem. Today, I am known for my work with Pearl Recycling not as an engineer,” she said. Country Director of Andela Nigeria, Mrs Omowale David-Ashiru, urged the girls on continuous self-development. Mrs David-Ashiru, who was represented by Andela’s Senior Director, Human Resource, Taiwo Judah-Ajayi, counselled the girls to go for roles they might not necessarily qualify for, but have the potential to perform if they eliminate distractions. The keynote speaker, Mrs Onyeche Tifase, urged the girls to have the right attitude and be willing to take up challenges on the job like she did until she became the first female Managing Director of Siemens Nigeria. “Focus on being the best you can. Continue to build and believe in yourselves. Don’t be comfortable; challenge yourself,” she said. Earlier in his welcome address, CKF founder, Dr Christopher Kolade, told the girls that their future would be determined by decisions they take today. “We are asking you to know today that you are the leaders we are now training, waiting for your opportunities tomorrow. If you are the leaders today, it means you have started taking decisions now. In order to take good decisions today, what you need to do is to have a vision of what your tomorrow will look like,” he said. Consultant co-ordinator of the foundation Omobola Lana said the participating pupils were exposed to hands-on science/technology, leadership and remedial training to encourage them take up STEM careers.