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Nevin Al Sukari - Abu Dhabi - Photo has been used for illustrative purposes.
Mariecar Jara-Puyod, Senior Reporter
That who nurtures life for even beyond one’s lifeline is that who is needed most in the World of Science which should not be based on gender or any circumstance.
So believes Heriot-Watt University (Dubai) School of Mathematical and Computer Sciences-Research associate director Dr. Neamata El Gayar.
El Gayar was interviewed ahead of the Feb.11 (Tuesday) “International Day for Women and Girls in Science” as an accidental conversation with Dennis Sangalang, a sophomore Civil Engineering student at the British curriculum university, revealed that women and girls, generally perceived as the fairer and weaker gender, have more than the ability and capability to become scientists.
“International Day for Women and Girls in Science” has been observed since 2015 as determined by the United Nations (UN) since women and girls “have critical roles” in the advancement of life through STEM (Sciences-Technology-Engineering-Mathematics). The implementing agencies are the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization and UNWomen.
El Gayar, among the early takers of Computer Engineering when first introduced at her alma mater of Alexandria University (Egypt) in 1985, has been advocating the widespread acceptance of girl and women scientists, since.
An advocacy, having realized, through the help of a seemingly strict teacher-nun in her elementary days, that girls and women could also be in the tough World of Science.
“She used to poke me. I was scared. When I and a few from our school were recognized by the (local government) for our achievements in the sciences, it was my teacher-nun who (yelled my name from the crowd). I saw her jumping up and down cheering for me.” El Gayar opted to join the teaching workforce. She believes everyone in the community must promote STEM to everyone because STEM is in every nitty-gritty of daily life — come to think of it — even in the niceties of the girly, womanly topics of fashion and cosmetics.
“The sciences are (gender-less). If we are not going to encourage our girls, that would be losing half of every one of us, who would be of great help in issues like global warming. Problems would be solved if we have different (and varied) perspectives; not only from the minds (of one group or gender).” El Gayar enumerated three characteristics of the credible scientist.
These, which may honed in both boys and girls — with the necessary open-mindedness and non-bigotry are — curiosity (ability to pose even the craziest questions because with the craziest questions come ingenuity), commitment, and critical thinking (unafraid to point out any seeming ambiguity as there are other sides to anything).
In a consequent accidental conversation with Civil Engineering student Sangalang, the young man who initially wanted to become a medical doctor but fate led him to the university as his long-time Dubai residents-parents wanted him to be with them — after years of separation — said girls and women would contribute greatly in the World of Science.
“I am proud that on top of our class is Neha Daniel. She is our class representative too. I have seen the way women think. They think so thoroughly which is (crucial) in the sciences because (STEM) is specific and detailed. Women and girls are more into the perfection of their work, which is a requirement in the sciences because as our professors always remind us, even one small mistake (we commit) could lead to a lot of people dying. And of course, my mum says, all women are hardworking and focused. These are what scientists are made of too.” On Monday, UNWomen executive director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka said: “Science and innovation can bring life-changing benefits, especially for those who are furthest behind—such as women and girls living in remote areas, the elderly and people with disabilities. Science will also be essential for decent work and jobs of the future including in green economy, and it can create a market for women’s innovative ideas and products.”
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