STEM education in general, and for girls in particular, is prominent in the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda. Empirical research shows that gender imbalances in attitudes towards STEM tend to be smaller in Sub-Sahara Africa, compared to the West; a trend confirmed in a 2021 Multistakeholder research project implemented in Kayonza, Rwanda, by KU Leuven, VVOB and RAWISE (Rwandese Association for Women in Science and Engineering). Data and stakeholder consultation however showed that this encouraging finding had to be qualified at the level of gendered self-confidence gaps, perceived male superiority and gender imbalance in transition to STEM higher education. Similar findings were found in a research from 2018 involving Dr Jolly Rubagiza, which specifically focused on mathematics performance. The important role of teachers in shaping gender differences through student-teacher interaction was also highlighted. As such, important challenges remain for changing gender norms in education which encourage male and female students alike to pursue STEM higher education and careers in Rwanda.
Welcome and introductions