GirlEng, South Africa
Involved alumni: 
Naadiya Moosajee
The challenge that the project addresses: 
Cultural, social and economic backgrounds have historically restricted girls from furthering their education especially in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) fields. The critical underlying causes for the absence of participation by girls and women in engineering include a lack of awareness of engineering careers, the stereotype that engineering is “man’s work”, and too few female engineer role models and mentors. Additionally, there is a perception that mathematics and science are impossible subjects, and that “girls are no good at math”.
What is your project doing to respond to this challenge?: 

GirlEng aims to increase the number of girls entering STEM fields by:

  • Improving access to information regarding STEM;
  • Gamification of engineering projects, encouraging girls to learn through play; 

  • Providing girls with access to mentors, career guidance & support networks;
  • Serving as role models;
  • Changing perceptions and accessibility around engineering fees to make these more accessible to girls.

The GirlEng program currently runs a number of workshops in South Africa and Kenya for high school girls. These include:

  • #AskAnEngineer- open events for girls between Gr. 9 -12 to connect with female engineers & engineering students through storytelling and mini technical projects;
  • “Technovation Challenge”- a deep diving workshop for 60 high-potential girls around career development, mentoring and applying their engineering minds to a simulated engineering technical challenge;
  • Mentorship workshops- helping to strengthen mentoring relationships and assist learners with applications to tertiary institutions.
Describe the project's impact: 

In 2010, WomEng tested the theory – if we invest in girls in high school, mentor them, provide guidance on engineering careers, provide them with opportunity and access, we could change the perceptions around STEM and more specifically the number of girls who would go onto study and graduate in engineering and technical fields. Our first cohort of GirlEng’ers graduated as engineers in 2014 and each year will see additional cohorts graduate. 

  • At the end of 2016, WomEng had worked with 14 000 girls and women in Sub-Saharan Africa;
  • WomEng is actively following the journey of 22 GirlEng-ers who attended workshops as high school learners and are currently studying or working as engineering graduates in South Africa;
  • In 2017, WomEng officially signed an endorsement partnership with UNESCO for our #1MillionGirlsinSTEM campaign. This campaign was launched at the United Nations in New York in 2017;
  • WomEng is committing to reaching 1 million girls through STEM education and awareness initiatives in at least 10 different countries within the next 10 years.