World Bank Group

02/09/2023 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 02/09/2023 02:17

Did you say, “Women and Girls in Science”? Meet Sally, who proves that women can succeed in STEM

A Difficult Balancing Act: "A test for either failure or success, I chose the latter"

Sally went from strength to strength after high school. She gained admission to the Gambia Technical Training Institute to study Architectural Draughtsmanship, was employed as a Teaching Assistant and later as a lecturer, and then completed a Higher National Diploma in Construction Management. When the opportunity to undertake an MPhil through the ACE project in Cameroon presented itself, she was very excited.

But there was one hitch - Sally, who was married and already had one child, had just learned she was expecting her second child. "I had never been that confused in my entire life."

Navigating being a parent and student in a foreign country away from home while expecting was a tremendous challenge, but Sally knew she had to pursue her dreams. "Yaoundé was a test for either failure or success, and I chose the latter."

She hid her pregnancy from everyone, including her parents. Convinced she would make it through with her hard work and dedication, she travelled to Cameroon for her three-year degree program. But as exams loomed, Sally feared she might give birth during the examination period. And she ended up delivering the baby and writing her Engineering Mathematics exams within four days!

"I sent a word to Banjul about giving birth to my second child. Everyone who heard the news was shocked and pondered how I could have given birth all by myself in a foreign land without any parent or husband. Without breaking me, this experience built me for future challenges."

Hard Work Pays Off

Despite the challenges, Sally thrived. And the hard work paid off. Back to The Gambia with her Master's degree in hand, she was promoted to Head of Section for Architecture and a Principal Lecturer at the Construction Department under the Institute of Technical Training (ITT) at the University of Applied Science Engineering and Technology (USET). She has also established her own small business, Sally's Engineering Firm, among other activities

She hopes to be a role model to other young women. "During my lessons. I encourage young female students to stay dedicated, focused, and work hard," she says.

"Women continue to be defined by what the community wants. When they see me in my typical overalls and helmet at a construction site, I am confronted by many who don't believe that I am the contractor or the project lead. Self-esteem is critical as an African Muslim woman practicing engineering, and I hope my story will inspire others."

Celebrating Women and Girls In Science!

Like Sally,