By JEFFARAH GIBSON
Tribune Features Writer
Tomorrow’s instalment of Women’s Wednesday at the National Art Gallery of the Bahamas will place special focus on women excelling in areas of science, technology, engineering, the arts and mathematics (STEAM).
Women’s Wednesday is presented by Equality Bahamas with the aim of removing the gap between women experts, practitioners and service providers.
Joining the panel at the event tomorrow will be D’Andre Wilson-Ihejirika, a Canada-based engineer and co-founder of Bahamas Engineering and Technology Advancement; electronic engineer T’Shera Gaitor; Zemi Stewart, a business analyst and author of mathematics workbooks; Nowé Harris-Smith, a visual artist and junior high school art teacher; Jillian Bethel, an ob/gyn turned blockchain technology entrepreneur, and Janay Pyfrom, founder of FindrPro.
These women will share their experiences and what they have learned along the way, comment on trends and areas in the country in dire need of trained professionals in STEAM. It will take place tomorrow beginning at 6pm.
“Women’s Wednesdays is primarily a response to women’s request for greater and more frequent access to information and resources, from personal financial management and building healthy relationships to self-care and bystander intervention training,” said Alicia Wallace.
“It is also changing the way panels and similar sessions are held by centering the people in attendance and intentionally offering them more time to share ideas, ask questions, generally contribute to the conversation based on their own knowledge and experiences and actively resisting the division between expert and audience,” she told Tribune Woman.
Women’s Wednesdays started in May 2017 following the overwhelming response to Equality Bahamas’ first annual International Women’s Day March & Expo.
According to organisers, Bahamian women expressed their appreciation for a platform which enabled them to connect regularly with experts, practitioners, service providers and each other on a range of topics.
For this reason, the team at Equality Bahamas decided to start a monthly event series that prioritises women and girls and responds to the interests and needs.
“This week’s Women’s Wednesdays session is focused on Women in STEAM. Over the past few years there has been a lot of conversation about careers in the fields of science, technology, engineering, the arts and mathematics, and the way we are or are not exposing students, especially girls, to those opportunities,” said Ms Wallace.
“It is important to not only highlight the women that are successful in these fields, but provide opportunities for women and girls to engage with them. We have invited women with a broad range of backgrounds, expertise, and careers who will be able to talk about how they got where they are, what they could have done differently, what could help current students, and how women can make career shifts or create another stream of income by embracing STEAM.”
Participants will be invited to share ideas for promoting STEAM, especially in high schools, and exposing women and girls to the wide range of opportunities that exists within the group of fields.
“Women’s Wednesdays sessions are not just about hearing from people we regard as experts, but opening conversations that challenge existing systems, sharing our own knowledge, and encouraging everyone to do what they can to create a better environment for women and girls,” said Ms Wallace.
This event is valuable, she added, as it is ideal for sparking ideas, generating conversation, and building community.
“We hope people develop a better understanding of STEAM, the opportunities within it, and what is required of us individually and collectively to make those opportunities accessible to women and girls in the Bahamas. We want this conversation to encourage parents, teachers, student, and community members to demand more of our educational institutions and the system undergirding it. Our discussion is meant to inspire women and girls to think beyond the popular career choices and equip them with tools and resources to help fill the gap left by the existing institutions. We also hope people will continue to attend the Women’s Wednesdays event series which continues to take on topics of interest to our community. In February, we will be focusing on mental health,” she said.
Women’s Wednesdays is free and open to the public. College students are especially encouraged to attend, while parents, teachers, and youth group leaders are encouraged to bring senior high school students. For more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.