Who are some of the women examples in STEM fields, and how rich are their experiences and their lessons?
The small percentages of women in STEM fields have always been a concern by many (STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math), whether inside or outside the STEM fields, especially with the fact that their percentages are high when it comes to being students in STEM. In this article, we’ll explore an example of two women who are STEM Ph.D. students in the UAE, to understand their journeys better.
The first example is Sohailah Al Yammahi , a Ph.D. student in Khalifa University (KU), who believes that defining the goal is more important than having a limitless. She quoted the words of the motivational speaker Denis Waitley: “The reason most people never reach their goals is that they don’t define them, or even seriously consider them as believable or achievable.” Al Yammahi won many awards, and she published articles and studies covering many aspects of STEM education, as well as in her own major of Computer Engineering (BSc & MSc), these published researches contributed to raising the quality and number of research in KU.
One of Al Yammahi’s researches was a study of a multi-dimensional educational system to optimize a STEM education strategy. This meant that she will have to lead a learning process to study a field in science called System Dynamics. Al Yammahi was tasked to be the first to lead the field of System Dynamics in the UAE. Therefore, by accomplishing that task, one could say that Al Yammahi contributed to the shaping of STEM education strategy in the UAE. It was through this study that Al Yammahi found that “the policy decisions and initiatives should be made to focus on, and increase the four factors- teachers’ capability, curricula quality, parents and society’s influences on students. These have the greatest impact on increasing the number of STEM students and the quality of STEM education in the UAE public school system.” 
The second example is an aerospace engineer who started her Ph.D. recently, Suaad Al Shamsi . She worked as a Maintenance Consultant and now a Technical Advisor, she has been influential in her field. By carrying the title of first female aerospace engineer in the UAE (in addition to a BSc & MSc in Aviation Management). Al Shamsi was able to lead contributions in STEM when she became a founder of Women in Aviation (Middle East), a society that Al Shamsi is widely known and respected by. Therefore, it is due to her contribution that many female aerospace engineers in the UAE were familiarized with the major. Moreover, it did not stop there, Al Shamsi recently published a novel titled “Iris Flower”, and some may argue that it is a step towards STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics). However the case may be, Al Shamsi continues to promote her field to other women, with pride.
By asking both women on how they felt their institutions – that they studied and worked in- encouraged them, they both responded that the institutions helped them and pushed them towards a challenging environment.
To Al Yammahi, the institution was KU. As she describes it to have “facilitated the research journey, helped with accessing required data sources, and cooperated with them in projects through developing applications that add innovation and novelty to serve their current work.” On the other hand, to Al Shamsi, it was a UAE national airline (Emirates) that helped her obtain experience from companies like Bugatti, Honeywell, Airbus, and Boeing.
Even though focusing on the goal seemed as if it is a road filled with obstacles, varying from driving long distances from home, or move to another country to pursue a major that was dominated by men, both did quite well to overcome those obstacles. Also, it is worth nothing that both female engineers are influenced by the UAE’s Vice President and Prime Minister, H.H. Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashed Al Maktoum, Ruler of Dubai.
Therefore, it can be noted that the government’s leadership plays a vital role in empowering women in STEM fields. Another factor is the influence of other women in STEM, women who are still perusing it. Those women are considered a continuous motivation for more women to join STEM careers and further education.
In conclusion, in every process or experiment in science, discussions on the results are necessary. What should be considered as necessary is that women like Al Yammahi and Al Shamsi should be a subject of study while creating a STEM strategy, because creating a newer strategy without consulting them might not lead to increasing the number of women in STEM fields, whether as careers or further studies. The society should not be stone-minded in repeating the same steps and expecting different results. We need to start eliminating all the difficulties that women can face in pursuing lives in STEM, because delaying them is considered as if the entire fields of STEM are being delayed as well.
 Al Yammahi, Sohailah. Independent Questioner on How Women Are Shaping STEM Education. November 6th, 2016. Print.
 Al Shamsi, Suaad. Independent Questioner on How Women Are Shaping STEM Education. November 8th, 2016. Print.
Latest posts by Yaqoob AlShamsi (@yaqoobalshamsi) (see all)
- What Does Militarizing Scientific Research Really Mean? - July 24, 2017
- The Journeys of 2 Women in UAE’s STEM - January 24, 2017
- Ever Noticed The Heritage Sites On Our Banknotes? - October 17, 2016