The Office of External Relations at the American University in Dubai (AUD), with the Women in Engineering (WIE) Club and the School of Engineering, launched the Women in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) Mentorship Program, in order to encourage high school students to enroll in scientific disciplines and ultimately work in those fields.
The Mentorship Program has been established due to the global concern that the STEM courses still have alarmingly low numbers of females. One of the reasons for this is simply lack of motivation, role models and the desire from the female students to pursue the sciences.
The AUD Women in STEM Mentorship Program will match AUD female students with senior high school (Grade 11 & 12) students in one-to-one mentorship interactions for a whole academic year. Through these interactions, as well as recreational and group activities, the matches will share mentoring, support, and motivation. Thanks to the launch of the program, 15 high school students in the UAE have already been paired with 15 students at AUD.
Dr. Alaa Ashmawy, Dean of the School of Engineering at AUD, commented during the launch ceremony that the average number of female students enrolled in science-related programs in universities around the world did not exceed 25%, a number, which needs to be increased to embrace more diversity in the engineering fields.
He added that female students in engineering and science-related programs are the best students as they enroll with their own motivation. He comments “at the global level, there is a general trend to increase the number of female students in engineering and sciences, because men still dominate engineering in general, and it has been proven that the admission of women into this sector improves performance.”
Attending the launch ceremony was Ms. Maryam Ali Al-Thani, former Director of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Emirates Branch, and Senior Manager for Corporate Partnership Department at DEWA. She spoke about her experience as an engineer, working in the scientific field and about the constraints she encountered and how she overcame them. She explained the importance of high school students having direction and guidance, “we need to push young girls to study engineering and other scientific disciplines, by sharing the experiences of current female engineers”. She continued, “This AUD initiative highlights the importance of the presence of women alongside men, especially in the engineering field, which helps to balance and support the cultural revitalization taking place in the UAE.”
Dr. Micheline Bejjani, Assistant Professor of Physics at AUD and WIE Club Advisor, indicated that the true mission of the WIE Club was revealed with the launch of the Women in STEM Mentorship program. She concludes, “We launched the program with 15 students for the first year, but there are around 100 female students enrolled in engineering programs at AUD and this is very promising for the future of the mentorship initiative.”