Launched in 2017, the Girls in STEM programme aims to leverage the Motsepe Foundation network of anchor schools to close the gender gap in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). This pipeline of women in STEM aims to facilitate inclusivity within the sectors that are becoming foundational to a nation’s socioeconomic development and success.
Women have made strides in many key academic disciplines such as medicine, law, finance, business, management, humanities and the social sciences. However, gender gaps persist in STEM enrolments, with women making up less than 20% of STEM graduates in South Africa.
The Motsepe Foundation, through the Development Forums invests in infrastructure at various primary and high schools across the country. These investments include the building and resourcing of computer and science labs. The Bursary division also provides university scholarships to students studying STEM subjects.
The Foundation recognises that this is insufficient in inspiring girls’ interest towards STEM as a lack of role models, workplace discrimination and limited investments in women and youth-led innovation prevents diverse participation in South Africa’s STEM ecosystem.
Through industry partnerships GEWAL has hosted workshops for girls and teachers that are designed to grow their interest in pursuing STEM careers and highlight the stories of women who have succeeded within these fields. In scaling this programme, GEWAL will work closely with other departments in the Foundation as well as anchor schools and other partners to launch location-based workshops for greater student engagement.