Posted By: Sadaf Taimur
According to the World Bank’s Gender Gap Report (2014), Out of 142 countries, Pakistan stands at 141 in terms of gender disparity in the areas of education attainment, economic participation, political empowerment and health and survival. Pakistan has generally been in the lower tier in terms of gender disparity throughout the years as a result of various social, cultural and legislative barriers. A closer look into the report also tells us that the percentage of female personnel dedicated to Research and Development in STEM is 11 percent as compared to 89 percent men. Not only this, but the female-to-male ratio in professional and technical workforce is barely 0.28.Women in STEM in Pakistan face a huge gap! And thus, we believe that it is important to encourage all the transformative women leaders working for STEM in Pakistan.
Meet Lalah Rukh – a barrier breaking & passionate,thirty-two year old social entrepreneur, educationist and science communicator. She is the Founder and Director of Science Fuse and is deeply passionate about creating informal STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) learning environments for children in Pakistan. Her passion for STEM education led her to work for five years at a Norwegian social enterprise titled Forskerfabrikken, which works to promote an interest in STEM education all across Norway. She also worked as assistant professor to teach Science Communication and Journalism to graduate and post-graduate students at the University of Oslo - Norway’s oldest and most prestigious institution for higher education. More recently she worked as content developer and science communicator at The Science Museum in London.
Lala Rukh says: "As a STEM educationist, I feel it's important for the world to recognise the need to promote the growth and success of female scientists, and to celebrate their achievements. We must put the spotlight on many of Pakistan’s remarkable but largely unknown female scientists — women who have devoted their time and expertise to contributing to society and humankind through fascinating work. Moreover, it is clear that Pakistan must provide a new and significant vehicle for action to support a higher percentage of women who use science to participate in tackling the combined challenges and opportunities for transforming existing and future infrastructure in the country. This will take more than dialogue — it will take action."
For the last four years, her social enterprise Science Fuse has been working to change the way science is perceived and communicated across classrooms in Pakistan and inspiring more children from diverse socioeconomic backgrounds to pursue STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) education and careers. They’ve collaborated with some of the most prestigious institutions in Karachi and Lahore to communicate science more effectively and offer interactive STEM learning programs to children from both private and public/charitable schools in both cities. As a champion for women in STEM fields, Lala Rukh has high hopes for future of women in the field of STEM in Pakistan. She believes in taking chances to challenge societal norms and expectations surrounding women in the workforce.
While it’s easy to highlight the many issues, gaps and struggles regarding women in the field of STEM in a country like Pakistan, women like Lala Rukh are taking things in to their own hands to make a difference.