Improving Gender Parity in the Brighter Investment Student Financing Model
My name is Joy Lamptey, and I am the student success manager at Brighter Investment. Growing up, I was lucky to have had a family that made me believe I could be anything I wanted to be. I wanted to be a surgeon, and later an architect. But someway somehow, someone somewhere suggested, “why not a nurse or an interior designer?”, They had no other reasons except for the fact that it would be a perfect career path for a pretty intelligent girl like me. Inexperienced as I was at the time, I believed these lines. Every surgeon and architect I admired was male, and every woman I looked up to was nowhere near my ambitioned career paths. At that time, the core science and engineering fields were simply for men, and girls like me could only dream of entering those fields.
Two decades down the line and this paradigm is far from being transformed.According to a report by the UN and an article by Forbes, women represent the single largest economic force in the world make up about half the world’s population and earn more college degrees than men, they remain under-represented in high-end-mathematics intensive fields. Less than 20% of computer science and engineering degrees are held by women.
Statistics by the National Science Foundation reveals that there are currently more jobs in STEM than in any other industry and that these jobs are among the highest paying jobs in the world. Men find themselves in a comfortable lead securing the jobs of the now and the future. Women need to begin to see careers in STEM as something they can handle. This would go a long way in ensuring balance and making for a more robust and diverse industry. The first step of this, is getting young girls into schools and getting them to pursue STEM degrees at the university.
This is why Brighter Investment is offering an alternative financing option to girls in developing countries to enable them earn a degree. By providing the required finance for university education as well as a robust mentorship program, Brighter Investment increases the earning potential of its beneficiaries and in essence helps them lead better, happier lives while contributing to national development.
Being a player in the STEM space, Brighter Investment is no different when it comes to attaining gender parity in its student portfolios. The company has supported over 200 students and less than 20% of these students are females. Although this is slightly better than the gender ration of supported degrees, the company believes that more can be done. STEM deserves more women. To this end, Brighter Investment signed a collaboration with the World University Services of Canada and the DKM Foundation to actively seek out innovative ways to improve gender parity in the BI model.
Firstly, Brighter Investment forms strategic partnerships with female-focused groups. Also, a social media campaign that would showcase successful women in STEM related degrees as role models to young girls across the world. With the same purpose, our own female BI students travel back to their communities to serve as a role model to the girls about to make a decision about higher education, and tell them financing is available through Brighter Investment if needed.
To identify additional cost effective initiatives that Brighter Investment can deploy, in depth research is currently being carried out on the barriers to female STEM Education in Ghana. The results of the research are expected to inform the strategies adopted by Brighter Investment to ensure gender parity in its model.
Changing the current narrative at once might be difficult. However, by making a commitment to make a difference in the lives of the young girls we come into contact with everyday, we can make a great change. We believe in the validity of the dreams of the girl child and are actively working to see that nothing stops them from living their best lives. The future is Bright!