Full STEAM ahead!
Meet Shaneilla Barker, a 17-year-old St Catherine High School student who is hoping to become one of Jamaica’s most notable female engineers.
Speaking with The Gleaner at a Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics (STEAM) Conference at the Knutsford Court Hotel in Kingston on Tuesday, Barker said she is aware of the stigma that is attached to women and technology but she is seeking to change the narrative.
“Girls are not really interested in technology, but I want to make a difference. Electronics is very interesting, and with the rate at which the world is going right now, we can clearly see that technology is evolving. We really need more persons in the future to apply their skills and create more opportunities with technology, and I will be doing so,” said Barker.
Currently in lower sixth form, Barker already has 11 subjects and is preparing for five subjects in the Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination. Chemical engineering or electrical engineering is her area of choice.
“I would say to other girls that whatever your passion is, you should go for it despite your gender. Gender does not define you, and so women are capable of doing what men are doing and much more because as you can see, women are dominating every single job there is today and we need to know our worth and importance. Young girls who wish to be engineers, do not be frightened, do not be that person who is not confident, go out there and pursue your dreams,” Barker advised.
Executive Director of The Centre for Digital Innovation and Advanced Manufacturing at the Caribbean Maritime University, Erica Simmons, in her address to the audience of high school students and teachers, said they were busy doing research and looking how these technologies can be applied to Jamaica and the region.
“I want them to know that there is a wonderful future that lies ahead for them because we are in the midst of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, and that means disruption is coming. The hallmark of the Fourth Industrial Revolution is the largest wealth creation opportunity in the history of our planet,” Simmons said.
The acting chief education officer, Dr Kasan Troupe, added that “Jamaica, like many countries, has moved to position technical and vocational education and training into the mainstream of the education system. This shift is driven in part by a recognition that over several decades, there has been a disconnect between the skills imparted by national education system and those demanded by the workplace.”