The representation of females in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) is a challenge for many industries around the world. Some observers have suggested that exposing girls and young women to successful role models in the field could be one way to encourage more women to pursue STEM courses in school.
As part of its global inclusion and diversity strategy, Newmont is committed to increasing the representation of women in all areas of its mining operation so The Company has established the Women and Allies (W&A) Business Resource Group to drive this goal through professional development, with the aim of building a more inclusive workplace culture.
To aid this effort, three of Newmont Ghana’s female engineers, who have made it their personal priority to mentor and help empower girls at junior and senior high school levels, shared their experiences and engaged with over a thousand female students at the Women in Engineering (WINE) Conference in the Ashanti region of Ghana, where they discussed the many career opportunities for women in STEM fields.
Gertrude Eshun, a mine geologist; Elizabeth Hazel, an IT engineer; and Mandy Lokko, a processing engineer, used the forum to share their academic and professional experiences with the budding mining students, correcting their widely held misconceptions that STEM fields are reserved only for men. Newmont’s trio were joined by other female engineers and officials from the Ghanaian Navy and Air Force, the Electricity Company of Ghana and Tullow Ghana.
The WINE conference is an initiative undertaken by the Women in Engineering section of the Ghana Institution of Engineers, in collaboration with Newmont Akyem’s Women and Allies Business Resource Group, to promote science and engineering careers among girls, with the goal of narrowing the gender gap and increasing representation of females in the sector. Based on the theme “Women in Engineering: There Is Room for Everyone”, the conference was held at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology as part of an ongoing high school outreach program that creates awareness and raises the profile of STEM fields among girls in Ghana.
After the presentations, the girls split up into groups, each of which was assigned a professional to counsel and answer questions about pursuing a career in science and engineering. The students opened up about challenges they faced, including the lack of support from their families and the struggle with facing stereotypes and misconceptions about engineering careers. The female engineers engaged the teaching staff and encouraged them to offer immense support to girls with interest in and an aptitude for potential for science and engineering.
“The excitement and interest the young ladies showed – especially during the mentoring breakout sessions – was extremely encouraging,” said Elizabeth Hazel, IT specialist with Newmont Ghana. “Our interactions with these girls have certainly sparked up their interest and encouraged them to take up careers in science and engineering. For many of them, until today, they had believed engineering was a domain just for men.”