Males have predominantly over time dominated the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). There are few women in STEM in Nigeria. Women are more involved in non-STEM sector compared to STEM. Female participation in STEM occupation is an important way to drive development in Nigeria. This study assessed women’s participation in STEM based occupations in Nigeria. The specific objectives are to:
- Describe Nigerian women
- Describe Nigerian women in STEM and Non-STEM.
- Determine the drivers of choice of STEM occupations among Nigerian women.
- Analyse constraints to the choice of STEM occupations among Nigerian women.
Secondary data, the Nigerian Demographic and Health Survey (DHS) data, containinginformation on 38,786 individual women were used for this study. Analysis was done using descriptive statistics and Logit regression model. The descriptive statistics include frequency counts, percentages and mean (standard deviation) and the results are presented in frequency distribution tables and charts to highlight the characteristic of women in Nigeria and the participation of Nigerian women in STEM occupations. Logit regression model was used to determine the drivers of choice of STEM occupations and analyse constraints to the choice of STEM occupations among Nigerian women.
Results show that 4.97% of Nigerian women were in STEM occupations, 58.29% in non-STEM occupations while 36.77% were not working (they are either housewives or not employed). The STEM occupations engaged in by the women include Engineering, Computer science, Environmental science, Science and Medical Science. There are few women in engineering (0.26%) and environmental science (0.84%) while we have more women in medical science(23.33%) and science (71.29%). The drivers of women in STEM occupations are age (β=0.06), being married (β=0.44), primary education (β=1.34), secondary education (β=3.24) and tertiaryeducation (β=5.74). The constraints to women in STEM occupations are (being in North East geo-political zone (β=-0.34) and having household size of more than 6persons (β=-0.16).
Participation of women is STEM occupations depends positively on education, marital status and age. However, women in North East geo-political zone are constrained in choosing STEM occupations. This can be explained by the fact that generally in Northern Nigeria, women have little or no education. Also, large household size constrains women in STEM occupations due to the fact that such women spend much time in taking care of such households and may not be able to give the required time for STEM occupations.
Nigerian women are not much involved in STEM occupations. The right policy should be put in place to educate girls, particularly, in the North. The principle of ‘catch them young’ should be used on girls so that as they grow, they will appreciate STEM subjects and choose STEM occupations in the future. Women should also be educated on the need for family planning methods to reduce household size, thus enhancing their participation in STEM occupations.
Keywords: Women, STEM, Occupation, Nigeria.