In the lead-up to International Women's Day 2022, AZoM spoke to Ohemaa Adjei Andoh, founder of Girls in Science and Technology (GIST) and the PM STEAM Educational Center in Ghana. Ohemaa is a successful engineer who is now looking to encourage young people, and girls in particular, to pursue careers in STEM.
Please can you introduce yourself and the roles you have occupied during your scientific career?
My name is Ohemaa Adjei Andoh. I am the founder of PM STEAM Educational Center and Girls in Science and Technology (GIST). Previous to these positions, I was a Cementing and Stimulations Engineer with Schlumberger, an Oil and Gas Service providing company. There I worked on projects in Ghana, Nigeria and supported projects on the Ivory Coast, Senegal and Mauritania.
What first drew you to science, and what inspired you to continue pursuing a career in STEM?
I was advised to study Science by a teacher from my Basic School. He was my Integrated Science teacher and he believed studying Science would be a challenge worth taking on, I am glad I listened to him. What inspired me to remain in this field was how I could relate this field to everything around me and could apply skills learned to everything I do.
During your studies at Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) you were the Women in Engineering President/Women’s Commissioner for the College of Engineering. How do societies and positions such as these encourage female students to engage with STEM subjects?
During my time as the Womens’ Commissioner of the College of Engineering/ women in Engineering President, I got the opportunity to partner with some companies to provide scholarships and internships for some my colleagues. I believe that role equipped me to do what I am doing now: spearheading projects to encourage girls to go into STEM careers.
You are the founder of Girls in Science and Technology (GIST) in Ghana. What inspired you to create this initiative and what are its goals?
During my time in the field as a Cementing and Stimulations Engineer, I realized the lack of women in my field. There was a time in Nigeria when I was the only lady on a rig with over 150 people. This piqued my interest to check with other fields in the STEM space and I realized it was quite common to find very few ladies in STEM careers. I did a survey and realized it wasn’t just a lack of interest, but mostly a lack of representation.
Most ladies didn’t have role models and figures to look up to. This is why I started Girls in Science and Technology. Also, I realized the need to introduce the young ones to STEM/STEAM at an early age, so I started PM STEAM Academy, with the aim of nurturing young minds to model the STEAM mindset in everything they do.
Could you tell us more about some of the work of GIST and the PM STEAM Academy and what they hope to achieve?
PM STEAM Educational Center is working on a project called STEAMFest, where about 15 organizations in the STEAM space are coming together to provide over 30 hands-on STEAM activities for kids and to explain the STEAM concept to parents. The theme for this year is “Embracing the STEAM concept”.
GIST has launched a university chapter at the University of Mines and Technology, and will be launching one at KNUST later in the year. This is to help us better train our members and equip them with all the skills they need.
Image Credit: GIST
Do you have any advice for young women or girls who wish to pursue a career in STEM?
My advice to young women or girls who wish to pursue a career in STEM is to dare to be different - just do it! There are others who are doing it and therefore it is possible, and even if no one has done it yet, pave the path and always remember to shine bright while doing this.
How important is it for girls to have role models in science? Do you have any yourself?
I believe it’s easier for someone to be or do what they see - it’s easier to model what you see. Fortunately, people are paving the way and this makes it easier for those coming up to build on it. With this, more ground can be covered and new ones discovered, hence the need to show representation. I had mentors from afar, people I would look up to from afar, but thankfully now I have one in my corner.
How are STEM fields evolving in Ghana, and what do you hope to see happen in the next ten years?
There is a lot of talk around STEM education now in Ghana and I believe we are moving in the right direction as a country. Starting at our Basic school level will help us raise a generation that will model the STEM mindset and hence promote economic growth in the country.
Finally, it is a hard question, but can you think of your favorite memory of being a scientist?
Throughout my career, I will say the most rewarding memory will be the look on my students’ faces every time we try new experiments. The joy it gives to them and how they cannot wait for the next session!
Where can readers find more information?
Banner Credits: Melitas & M.Style / Shutterstock
PM STEAM Academy: www.pmsteameducationalcenter.com
About Ohemaa Adjei Andoh
Ohemaa Adjei Andoh started her career as a Cementing and Stimulation Engineer with Schlumberger in Nigeria and Ghana, and supported projects in Senegal, Ivory Coast, Mauritania, and Angola. She spent six years in the Oil and Gas Service industry.
During her time with the company, she realized how few women took on Engineering jobs in her field and decided to check with other Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics fields and realized the story was not any different there.
As her interest peaked in this, she founded Girls in Science and Technology (GIST) @gistgh, a foundation that introduces young females to various careers in STEM and also provides mentorship and training sessions as well as other projects. GIST won the Ghana Outstanding Woman Social Community award for the year 2020 at the GOWA 2020 Awards and a Certificate of Achievement in 2021 from the Global Humanitarian Awards.
Disclaimer: The views expressed here are those of the interviewee and do not necessarily represent the views of AZoM.com Limited (T/A) AZoNetwork, the owner and operator of this website. This disclaimer forms part of the Terms and Conditions of use of this website.