Kenyan Outreach Team celebrate International Day of Women and Girls in Science
In 2015, the United Nations General Assembly declared 11 February as the International Day of Women and Girls in Science to acknowledge and celebrate the participation of women and girls in science.
To mark International Day of Women and Girls in Science 2022, Dr Esther Kanduma and the IVVN-KeAWARD outreach team visited Our Lady of Mercy Secondary School in Nairobi to provide mentorship, advice on scientific careers and deliver the African Schools Outreach Programme interactive laboratory experiment.
The day began with the team of six, comprising four women scientists and two final year university students from University of Nairobi and Kenya Agricultural & Livestock Research Organization (KALRO), hosting a presentation on “Road to a successful science career: Tips from successful women scientists” to 880 girls aged between 14-18 years old and 12 teachers.
During the presentation, the scientists each shared their journeys to successful and enjoyable careers as biochemists, cancer geneticist, animal health scientist, microbiologist and biotechnologist. They gave guidance on successful study habits, creating a positive attitude and perception towards science subjects. The presentation ended up with an interactive question and answer session, with most of the questions focussing on science courses selections and pathway to science careers.
In the afternoon, the outreach team delivered the interactive vaccination workshop to 50 girls. During the workshop, the girls learned about important infectious diseases of humans and animals and the use of vaccines to control their spread. The emphasis was on the cause and control of COVID-19 infection and the practical steps to follow in the lab to test samples. They used harmless dyes to practice micropipetting then proceeded to screen mock human sera samples purportedly collected from people in their Sub-County.
Reflecting on the experimental workshop, the girls said:
“My thoughts on this workshop is that we should having one every weekend and I liked the experience. I felt like a scientist even though I learned that I have been a scientist all along. The experiment has motivated me to work towards being a scientist. I loved the experience. Science rocks!!”
“Today’s session was very interesting for me and I have learned new things and now I believe that women can be scientists”.
After the experiment, Dr Kanduma narrated to the girls the story of More Milk Zuri?!, a comic developed by Easter Bush Science Outreach Centre, Roslin Institute and Centre for Tropical Livestock Genetics & Health, that explores how genetics and biotechnology can be used to help an African cow called Zuri produce enough milk to feed her community. Copies of the comic were then distributed to the girls to read and share with their friends and family.
Congratulations to the Kenyan Outreach Team for hosting these inspiring activities to celebrate International Day of Women and Girls in Science and thank you to Dr Esther Kanduma for writing this article.