Sunday, November 4, 2018

Women in STEM: Nafisat's Story

Finally ladies, our Women in STEM series concludes with Nafisat Tijjani from Kano in Nigeria. Nafisat is a lecturer in the Mechanical Engineering field. As a child, her dream was to become a doctor - a common dream for a child doing well academically at an early age in that part of the world. It was a general belief that for an individual to be successful in life, she or he must study a professional course, such as Medicine, Engineering, or Law. Find out what she had to say when we caught up with her!

How did you pick your career path?
Right from senior secondary school (High school), students are obliged to study either science or arts subjects. The option is determined by their examinations and aptitude test. It is generally believed that brilliant students are usually science inclined. I personally enjoyed mathematics and other science subjects in general. My examination and aptitude test result also indicated that I was to be placed in science class.
After secondary school, I did a one-year foundation course, also known as Remedial Science. It was at that period, my dream of studying becoming a doctor faded. There was so much competition for securing admission, and the high pass mark was set for the course. 

I came to accept the fact and the reality that not every person meets up with the requirements to study medicine. I also learned that a career as a female doctor in my society is very challenging. To avoid any disappointment, I decided to change my direction. 

I have been lecturing for over three years now. I have carried out my job with so much dedication. I have also been assigned different responsibilities ranging from my major duty of lecturing, to level coordinating and final year students’ project supervision. I have attended and participated in academic conferences, both locally and internationally one of which was organised by The Institution of Engineering and Technology in the UK. I have also registered with an Engineering body in Nigeria; Council for Regulation of Engineering in Nigeria (COREN). I have carried out a one-year postgraduate diploma in education to equip me with the necessary teaching skills and to acquire certification for teaching. My students have always been my major source of inspiration and I wish to build a career in the Mechanical Engineering field. 

Image result for kano state polytechnic university
Kano State Polytechnic University 
What challenges did you face and how did you overcome them? 
During my first year as a Mechanical Engineering student, my performance was good. After my second year, my family moved to the UK. I found it difficult to stay away from my family. Consequently, my academic performance was affected. Furthermore, a lot of times people around asked me questions regarding my choice of studying Mechanical Engineering. It was gender stereotyped. The course was believed to be for men, whereas some people where under the misconception that a mechanical engineer was same as a mechanic, so they wondered and kept asking me why I want to spend my life fixing cars. Funny isn’t it? 

Also, pursuing a career in Mechanical Engineering was not very encouraging. This was partly due to cultural biases, and partly due to limited engineering activities in my hometown

What's your advice for other women in the industry, or those wanting to join?
The advice I would like to give other women in the Mechanical Engineering field or who want to join as the field as lecturers. First, I would like to say you need to understand that at some time in your career, you may have no one to encourage and motivate you to keep moving. You need to understand that self-motivation is essential. Moreover, the industry is male dominant. So you will have to adapt to being around men either as students or co-workers, and will you need to learn to collaborate. 

It is alright if you make a few mistakes so long as you learn from them and make amendments. Seek knowledge continuously and be well equipped to face your students at all times. Set a goal you want to achieve in a long-term, break it into small and easily attainable bits in such a way that the end of one goal initiates a subsequent one. Also set them in such a way that you can measure your success at the end of each goal. You need to stay focused and try to make your work enjoyable so it does not drain you. You need to develop interpersonal skills and build healthy relationships with the people around you.  It is important to join corporate bodies, contribute to academic literature, and engage in research work. 

"Lastly, never compromise your health, or family with work. You may be very busy, but you can always create time for what is important. Good health and a happy family will go a long way in boosting your productivity."

What book are you currently reading?
With regards to the book I'm reading right now... Can you take a guess? I bet you are thinking some thermodynamics, or some mechanics, or some related book right? Well you are wrong! I am actually reading The Millionaire Fastlane by M.J DeMarco. Why? Well, I'm reading it because I want to attain financial freedom within my career so I am trying to get an idea of how.

I am not much of a writer, but I do hope you enjoyed my write-up. To contact me, you can reach me on LinkedIn, or my email address:

Thank you!

What do you think? Nafisat's story exemplifies just how much sauce us ladies really have! I hope you have enjoyed our Women In STEM series. Let me know if you identify with Nafisat's story, and if you would like to hear from more ladies in different industries next!

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  1. Schooled (secondary school) with Nafisat and I could tell she was going to do well. There is a big gap and gemder equality needs to be discussed more in developing countries. SeanOcean

    1. Oh wow! Can you just imagine that? Gender equality is a problem around the world but just by her occupying that position, she's already doing something to address the issue.


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