STEM EDUCATION FROM APARTHEID TO DEMOCRACY

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CHAPTER TWO LITERATURE REVIEW

 INTRODUCTION

This chapter reviews a wide range of literature that speaks to young women in the STEM fields. A comparison is made between the position of young women in these fields in other countries and their situation in South Africa and in particular, at South African universities. Lessons were learned where the situation has improved. The measures put in place to realise such improvements were taken as recommendations for the development of an awareness programme, aimed at improving the participation of young women in the STEM fields in South African universities, as the outcome of this study. In this chapter, acknowledgement and appreciation of the efforts made so far by participating institutions, i.e. universities and government, are given by embracing such efforts as inputs, with the hope of collaboration in the implementation of the developed programme.

 BACKGROUND

A number of programmes and initiatives have been established and implemented since the inception of a democratic government in South Africa. During the transitional period from apartheid to democracy, many people, especially those in vulnerable groups like women, have been undergoing rapid transformation, trying to cope with changes from the Old Order towards the new direction that the country was taking. New challenges and the changing traditional gender roles became a reality for many while people were simultaneously facing a socioeconomic crisis. Improving women’s participation in reclaiming their share of resources, land, employment and income relative to that of men, was seen as necessary and sufficient to effect a dramatic change in their living conditions (Miles, 2000:1). These are some of the reasons why I considered that young women should ‘claim’ their socioeconomic space by participating in large numbers in the STEM fields, with market-related salaries.
Changing gender roles was a small factor of what the world, not only South Africa, had become. Technology had become more advanced and people, particularly mothers as primary providers for families, could no longer rely on subsistence farming for food security as the only source of income due to global warming (ACTO 2014:i). As a result, empowering women and girls has become a priority as well as ensuring that they received investments equal to those of their male counterparts for their sustainable growth. On the other hand, young people were regarded as a positive force for development and needed to be provided with the knowledge and opportunities to thrive. Significantly, young people were encouraged to acquire the education and skills which were, and still are, necessary to contribute towards a productive national economy (United Nations, 2015:1).
Based on this background, the purpose of the study is therefore to assist young women to:
• embrace the changing gender roles
• engage in relevant education
• acquire the necessary skills
• maximise their economic investments
• live sustainable lives.
When consolidating and contextualising the above objectives, the intention of this study is to improve the participation of young women in the STEM fields, which seems to be one of their new roles compared to the former one of flooding the social and humanity fields as if this was the norm. Young women are encouraged to break the barriers and enter the male-dominated STEM fields in large numbers, in order for them to avoid poverty instead of mostly pursuing fields that no longer provide good returns and, in addition, are also over-supplied. The level of education at which that is achieved is important since a university is one of the finest institutions where young women are enabled to construct the foundations of their future careers that in turn will lead to a sustainable livelihood. Young women should also break the glass ceiling and take up leadership positions in the workplace, as professionals.
According to the British Council (2015:3), the issues around women and their inclusiveness in leadership positions, were discussed at the UN Conference in 1935. Regrettably, such issues are still discussed up to the present. The three highlights are women in the STEM fields, their entry, retention, respect and recognition in such fields.
The same problems that were identified as challenges are still obstacles and continue to persist even into the 21st century. The main question that remains unanswered is whether society has put sufficient effort into addressing such issues. Alongside the main question one should ask whether women scientists are being nurtured; have there been enough opportunities for them throughout the past years, and whether academies and institutions of learning have been giving women the honour they deserve. Universities, as part of these institutions, who already enjoy the pleasure of registering a higher number of young women than young men, need to respond to the above questions. They should reflect on what measures they have put in place to ensure that this high number of young women registered does not overwhelm one area or even a few disciplines but is proportionally spread throughout the fields, especially in those where women’s talent is missing, as in the STEM fields.

OVERVIEW OF STEM EDUCATION

Significance of STEM for development

According to Muchie (2015:4), STEM integration, comprising science, technology, engineering, and mathematics is a new unity of knowledge of related disciplines, to the extent that crossing from one to the other as a resource for learning and invention is regarded as important, necessary and relevant. This new trans-disciplinary field of education and its integrated knowledge resource is enriching for learners since it enables them to create meaning of the world through a broader disciplinary lens than if it were viewed through bits and pieces of phenomena, in their own isolated fields.
In all fields of work, career development has been found to be significant and critical. The development in the field of science, technology, engineering, agricultural sciences and mathematics (STEAM), in particular, is important in improving the underrepresentation of women. Women are encouraged to continuously develop themselves at different stages and levels of their careers. They need to acquire new skills and abilities, in order to gain access to senior decision-making positions and as leaders (Cummings, 2015:25). Training and development for girls and women in the STEM is necessary and can be done on a global scale as in the case of the Microsoft Global Women’s Hackathon. This institution tested, validated, and also packed curricula in the form of ‘learning kits’, after which it was taken to different institutions around the world. This initiative is currently raising women’s and girls’ interest in computer sciences worldwide, successfully. The other initiative, the United States Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI) Women in Technology, is empowering women in the Middle East and North Africa. It is cosponsored by Microsoft and the Institute for International Education. This network has been providing training in information technology since the year 2005, on professional development and entrepreneurship, to over 10,000 women from underprivileged communities (Cummings, 2015:28). South Africa can also take lessons from the above practice, towards the development of women in the STEM fields.
Cummings (2015:28-29) mentions another example of ‘the powerful use of a digital community’, i.e. the STEM Camp for African Girls on Robotics and Renewable Energy. This is an initiative of Working to Advance STEM Education for African Women Foundation (WAAW). So far, this initiative has taken up to 62 girls who have taken part in a STEM camp. The WAAW has undertaken to send 10,000 girls, from secondary schools and colleges, on programmes. It has also trained 120 college partners and awarded 17 college scholarships. On the other hand, the European Platform of Women Scientists provides 12,000 women at senior levels, in 40 countries with 100 digital and real networks. The collaboration of different organisations mentioned above heightens the outcome results. This serves as motivation since they used various strategies towards the achievement of a common goal for all, i.e. development of girls and women in the STEM.
In assisting the above and many more initiatives in the development of women in the STEAM for certain countries, as explained by Cummings (2015:31-33), a gap has been identified, that of reliable, well-structured data, in order to keep track of women who are working in the STEAM, research and educational institutions but regrettably, some data is not sex-disaggregated. The aim of securing quality data is for evaluation of the current status of gender equality initiatives in academic research in the STEAM fields in Africa, Euro-Asia, Southeast Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean. The underlying objectives behind this aim are to be able to:
• Provide baseline information on the existing gender gap in the STEAM globally. Identify how the above gender gap affects different levels of seniority within the STEAM fields.
• Compile disaggregated data in academia in order to provide patterns that may assist in understanding the trends in women’s participation and retention in STEAM fields.
• Review integrated STEAM programmes for women in different countries, including those that may not have the necessary resources for implementation.
• Identify challenges, including different forms of gender-based violence that women are faced with, from joining to staying successfully in STEAM fields.
• Highlight successful programmatic practices and lessons, in order to support women to thrive in STEAM fields.
In summarising the above, Akinsowon and Osisanwo (2014:8) explain that STEM plays a significant role in the development and economy of all nations, as it forms the ‘basis for the different emerging technologies’ that the world activities revolve around. As a result, the development of girls in STEM is important, considering the role they play in society as future mothers. These authors suggest that once more girl-education is emphasised in Nigeria, there will be a ‘healthier, more educated, more empowered and more productive nation’. The placing of young women at the centre of the development in the STEM fields will drastically change their marginalisation and assist them to balance the choice of careers by taking up more in the STEM fields, where their numbers are low in the upliftment of their socioeconomic status. This will address the much-needed 21st century skills.

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 Historical features of STEM

White (2014:2) claims that all forms of STEM education have been around for decades without serious acknowledgement. It is only now that legislators and educational administrators are recognizing its importance. Originally, STEM education was referred to as science, mathematics, engineering and technology (SMET), initiative of the National Science Foundation (NSF). The aim of this initiative was to provide all students with critical thinking skills that would enable them to creatively solve problems and become the ultimate workforce in that market. In support of that, O’Dea & Corcoran, (2014:i) implied that the aim still stands as STEM is regarded as the solution in the unprecedented socioeconomic challenges that the worlds find itself, as a result of climate change and shortage of food security.
In essence, White (2014:2–3) highlights that historically, the STEM concept was being implemented in many areas in the business sector, as part of the Industrial Revolution. STEM was primarily used in engineering firms to produce revolutionary technologies such as the light bulb, automobiles, tools and machines. A number of inventors of these and more innovations were not highly educated and some were in different types of apprenticeship. For instance, the people who used the STEM principles (although there was no STEM then) to produce some of the most productive technologies in history, Thomas Edison and Henry Ford, did not attend college.
The wealth of knowledge that is available today serves as a great opportunity for further development in the form of programmes to be initiated, in the effort to increase the participation of young women in the STEM, and towards greater sustainability.
The development of the land grant universities, as a result of the Morrill Act of 1862 that initially focused mostly on agricultural training but soon thereafter included engineering-based training programmes, is one of the historical efforts that gave birth to STEM education (White, 2014:2–3). Subsequent to that, the Ohio State University was established in 1870, although it was originally named the Ohio Agricultural and Mechanical College. Thereafter, more land grant institutions were established, also growing the STEM education training, which ultimately was integrated into the workforce. In addition, some historical events like World War II and the launch of the then Soviet Union’s Sputnik, also added to popularise STEM education (ibid.).
Since the inception of the then SMET to the current STEM, there have been various developments that have contributed to knowledge that was gathered as heritage for us to use today and in future. The incentive is that, as mentioned above, most of this knowledge originated from people who were not professionals but they still managed to pass their knowledge to the following generations. More inventions are yet to come and both men and women have to make equal contributions to maximise their production. However, both genders need to be at the same level of development. Young women therefore deserve to participate equally in the excitement of new creations and have to be assisted through developmental programmes, hence this investigation was conducted, through which the birth of an awareness programme was realised.

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 Contemporary features of STEM

The importance of history in the development of the STEM education cannot be underestimated and continues to occupy that space. There are currently a number of varying opinions by different stakeholders, on what STEM education is and how it should be taught (White, 2014:4).
Regrettably, Akinsowon and Osisanwo (2014:8) relate how different surveys, throughout the African continent have discovered a higher record of boys who are studying science and technology subjects and perform significantly better than girls. This leads to boys pursuing the STEM careers beyond their schooling. Girls, on the other hand, take different career paths away from the STEM fields and even the research field. The results are that women tend to be in the minority in both these fields and their influence in policymaking remains limited. Girls and women have to be attracted to pursue STEM careers in bigger numbers, considering their minority status in these fields.

CHAPTER ONE INTRODUCTION TO THE STUDY 
1.1 INTRODUCTION
1.2 BACKGROUND
1.3 RATIONALE FOR THE STUDY
1.4 MOTIVATION FOR THE STUDY
1.5 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
1.6 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
1.7 LIMITATIONS
1.8 DELIMITATIONS
1.9 DEFINITION OF CONCEPTS
1.10 CHAPTER OUTLINE
1.11 SUMMARY
CHAPTER TWO LITERATURE REVIEW 
2.1 INTRODUCTION
2.2 BACKGROUND
2.3 OVERVIEW OF STEM EDUCATION
2.4 POLICIES AND INITIATIVES ON STEM
2.5 STEM EDUCATION FROM APARTHEID TO DEMOCRACY
2.6 ROLE OF UNIVERSITIES IN DEVELOPING STEM FIELDS
2.7 STATISTICS OF YOUNG WOMEN IN STEM FIELDS GLOBALLY
2.8 EXPERIENCES OF YOUNG WOMEN IN STEM FIELDS
2.9 CULTURE AND TRADITION
2.10 PARTICIPATION OF YOUNG WOMEN IN STEM FIELDS IN SA
2.11 GAPS IN CURRENT STEM FIELDS’ PROGRAMMES
2.12 STRENGTHENING OPPORTUNITIES TO CLOSE GAPS
2.13 CONCLUSION
CHAPTER THREE THEORETICAL FRAMEWORKS 
3.1 INTRODUCTION
3.2 RESEARCH THEORIES
3.3 CONCLUSION
CHAPTER FOUR RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODOLOGY 
4.1 INTRODUCTION
4.2 RESEARCH APPROACH
4.3 RESEARCH ASSUMPTIONS
4.4 RESEARCH PARADIGMS
4.5 POPULATION AND SMAPLING
4.6 INSTRUMENTATION AND DATA COLLECTION TECHNIQUES
4.7 DATA ANALYSIS AND INTERPRETATION METHODS
4.8 VALIDITY AND RELIABILITY
4.9 RESEARCH ETHICS
4.10 SUMMARY
CHAPTER FIVE DATA ANALYSIS 
5.1 INTRODUCTION
5.2 DATA ANALYSIS
5.3 RESULTS OF RESEARCH
5.4 SUMMARY
CHAPTER SIX RECOMMENDATIONS
6.1 INTRODUCTION
6.2 THE PROGRAMME
6.3 CONCLUSION
BIBLIOGRAPHY
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