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Gender Equality & value of STEM - Karen Walstra, Gafieza Ismail, Cheryl Williams Chat

Updated: Jan 23, 2023

Karen Walstra chatted about Gender equality and the importance of STEAM, with Gafieza Ismail (WCED eLearning Directorate: Deputy Chief Education Specialist for eCulture) and Cheryl Williams STEAM Based Learning Manager (Penreach)

How do we help our girls? Recently South Africa’s Gauteng Health Department announced the results of research showing more than 23 000 teenage pregnancies between April 2020 and March 2021. According to the Gauteng Health Member of the Executive Council (MEC) Nomathemba Mokgethi, 934 of the girls were between 10 and 14 years, raising more questions about teenage pregnancies.

In 2019 the Department of Basic Education reported that learners, particularly girls, left school before Matric for various reasons such as pregnancy, the need to take care of younger siblings or ill parents, poverty and ukuthwala (a form of abduction that compels a young woman’s family to endorse marriage negotiations).

With regards to STEM and women, in 2019 the vast majority of countries reporting the lowest proportions of women researchers in engineering and technology, were African. In 2021, Benin in West Africa, outperformed the rest of the world having the highest number of women engineering graduates in the world. Women engineers form a minority in the 4IR industry fields. Globally, women still account for only 28% of engineering, 40% of computer science and informatics and 22% of AI graduates. South Africa is the only African country included in the top 20 countries globally in terms of its share of women professionals with artificial intelligence (AI) skills. In South Africa 23% of graduates in the AI field are women.

In South Africa, 22% of computer science graduates are women, yet only 2.9% of them receive jobs in the field of technology.

In 2017 in South Africa, women made up only 5% of CEOs in ICT companies as compared to 22.5% in the United States.

Creating awareness of gender equality and STEM among our girls, helping to keep them in school, and being treated fairly and equally in society and in future careers is vital. Join the conversation.


Karen Walstra works with schools on educational change, and technology integration.

If you would like her to work with your school leadership or staff reach out to her at

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