As festivity sets in, and many travel to spend the yuletide with extended families or receive long distance cousins and family members for the holiday, old and young share family stories, cook meals, and entertain friends, instinctively preserving and passing on family philosophies. In order to keep the festivity going, girls cook meals, clean up and assist in making provisions for the entire household while their male counterparts most probably invest their time in games, computer games and intelligent conversation over TV shows and news. Even, younger males have enough time to put sticks, straws and old batteries together, accidentally innovating little technology to play with.
Noticeably in the deep seat of African settings, girl child shrinks into roles, mostly at this time, and there is need to be observant to notice the gender imbalance and stereotype that flies around during such period. Viewpoints, belief and socialization within families and communities, which are particularly prominent in this time of the year can instill in children ideas about what is, or is not, suitable for girls to do, including which subjects they should study in schools. Gender stereotyping means attributing characteristics or roles to girls and boys, and women and men, only because of their membership in the social group of women or men lead to assumptions and ideas about girls and boys, women and men, including expectations about how they should look, behave, act and think. This is an indication of the low participation of girls and women in technology, STEM subjects and STEM related careers.
Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) knowledge and skills are relevant, not just to those who work in STEM-related fields, but in understanding our daily lives. STEM education helps to develop critical thinking skills and the ability to find solutions to everyday problems and this are fundamental skills for both girls and boys– regardless of their field or vocation. However, gender inequalities persist in STEM education, resulting from the discrimination within family units where fewer girls than boys engage in activities that are tech related. There is much work to be done to rip to pieces this implicit and explicit gender biases that happen within the homes – preventing equal participation in intellectual activities.
So, as we go into Christmas, it is important to let the girl child learn and exhibit the STEM skills in her! we should not allow the our girls to only participate in story telling, chicken grills and meal serving at such period of the year while the boys have the luxury of time to share their creative sides and delve into Technology, leaving out their female folks? Our girls can also play video games and get creative with Legos and scraps for the sake of technology and the fun of festivity without gender stereotyping flying around. Merry Christmas!