The proportion of women actively pursuing STEM-related careers is low. This is because few women in Kenya and in Africa pursue their degrees to advanced levels. As a result, very few leadership positions in STEM fields are occupied by women. Therefore, many scientific and health innovations that could save the lives of millions women and young girls such as vaccines for infectious diseases, medical devices that aid in pregnancy and advanced family planning options among others often receive little priority. Our group seeks to advocate for women’s economic, social, and personal rights by ensuring that women get the correct educational foundation to also become equal leaders in the fields of STEM.
The STEMing Africa Initiative is one of three programs that currently run under the Miles Scientiam Agency (MSA). MSA is a private consulting firm registered in Kenya that carries out educational consulting, academic mentorship, and entrepreneurship training tailored for young African women, to advance their education in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) subjects. Our aim is to help the women not only to advance their education, but also to develop social entrepreneurship skills that will help them to become STEM leaders and ambassadors. We encourage girls pursuing STEM courses in the universities to excel in their various fields, and to support the highly intelligent and passionate young female graduates to secure admission for advanced degrees at leading universities across the world.
Photo: Patricia Kiprono, one of our pioneer mentees.
Through the support of the Western Union Chain of Betters ( https://www.wu.com/chainofbetters/betters/steming-africa-a-girl-at-a-time/ ) we were able to spearhead our activities. We are now working with other organizations such as the Forum for African Women Educationalists (FAWE) Kenya and the Ministry of Education who are committed to championing the education of women in Kenya and in Africa. We have expanded our activities to include the mentorship of high school girls aspiring to be future scientists, mathematicians, and engineers.
Photo: The founder of MSA (Ms. Valentina Ndolo – right) and the Director of Basic Learning, Ministry of Education (Mrs. Hellen Avisa – left) at the Forum for African Women Educationalists (FAWE) offices in Nairobi, Kenya.
Testimonials from beneficiaries
I hold a BSc. Biotechnology (1st class honors) degree. During my undergraduate studies, I developed a great interest to further my studies in the same field. The passion drove me to apply for all available scholarships in my field. Among the applications was the STEMing Africa Initiative. My interaction with STEMing Africa Initiative has been a great revelation for me. I have had the rare opportunity to have my applications guided through each step at a personal level. Valentina, the founder of the initiative, dedicated herself to go over each essay required, confirmed the applications before submission and gave back very helpful feedback. In addition, she really encouraged me through the process and continuously affirmed the achievements that I already had.
Picture: Faith Kamau, a pioneer mentee
Although I secured admission to a couple of universities in the United Kingdom, I was offered the Pan African University (PAUSTI) scholarship funded by the African Union to take an M.Sc. in Molecular Biology and Biotechnology that has just started. I am particularly interested in the study of infectious diseases that adversely affect our continent both health wise and economically. I am hoping to pursue a Ph.D. immediately after my masters at a world class institution to enhance my capacity and improve my exposure in research. I also hope to continue working with STEMing Africa Initiative to realize my goal.
The initial idea for the initiative was implemented with help from the Biochemistry department at the University of Nairobi. We coordinated with the College of Health Sciences at the University of Nairobi, Kenyatta University, Maseno, Moi, and Masinde Muliro Universities to identify promising fresh graduates with sufficient potential to succeed in intellectually challenging environments. We initially identified several promising graduates and were able to plan and conduct the interviews to screen for the best candidates.