TIME TO BREAK THE BIAS: INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY 2022

Imagine a world in which gender equality is the norm. A world free of bias, stereotypes, and
discrimination. A world that’s diverse, equitable, and inclusive. Marked annually on March 8,
International Women’s Day is one of the most significant days of the year, that celebrates women’s economic, social, cultural, and political achievements and rallies for their equal rights.
Regardless of gender, International Women’s Day (IWD) is a beautiful moment for all of us to reflect on and celebrate the strides made in women’s empowerment globally. A level playing field is essential to allow women to move ahead in their respective fields. Whether deliberate or unconscious, the bias makes it difficult for them to do so.


What does a world free of bias look like?
This year’s International Women’s Day theme is ‘breaking the bias’ and it’s about
working towards a world free of stereotypes and discrimination that is diverse, equitable, and
inclusive. It’s a world where difference is valued and celebrated. In many countries, women are still
excluded from forms of decision-making and positions of power, consciously and unconsciously. It is this mindset that must change and highlighting and addressing this issue is a good place to begin.


Conscious bias has been a damaging social issue for some time but only recently has unconscious
bias been given similar attention. Unconscious bias is probably the most common form of
discrimination. It is almost like people have been programmed, over many years, to believe and see
people of different ethnicity, gender, religion, or disability in a different light to themselves. Whilst
many forms of unconscious bias may be harmless, unfortunately, most forms do cause people to
suffer. Of course, if the bias is unconscious, it is harder to identify and solve. That is why talking
about the issue and highlighting common types of unconscious bias can help more people realize
and understand the negative repercussions of it. It will take time, but through annual events such as
International Women’s Day eventually, awareness will be at an all-time high and unconscious bias
at an all-time low.


Collectively we can all #BreaktheBias.
A bias refers to the disproportionate weight given to an idea or thing, usually in an unfair,
prejudiced, or closed-minded manner. Unconscious bias is how a person thinks that has been shaped by their life experiences. Sometimes they have beliefs and views about other people that might not be right or reasonable. Unconscious bias, on the other hand, refers to decisions that are influenced by false beliefs or assumptions rather than bias. It is sometimes hard to differentiate between the two forms of bias, a lot of the time an example of bias may share similar characteristics to that of unconscious bias.


In today’s society, gender bias is the term often used to refer to the preferential treatment men receive over women. Another term for gender bias is ‘sexism’, the prejudice against women solely on the basis of their sex. As well as gender bias, there are also other forms of unconscious bias that disproportionately affect women and they are all most prominently visible within professional settings.


Let us look at some striking statistics.
• 42% of women experience gender discrimination at work.
• 5 of the 14 top barriers women face in the workplace are related to discrimination and gender bias.
• 40% of men and women notice a double standard against female candidates.
• 6.6% of CEOs at Fortune 500 companies are women.


These statistics are alarming rather than encouraging. This is a charge to each and every one of us to put in our own efforts no matter how little to promote the inclusivity of women in places of work and decision-making.


Together we can break the bias!


Happy International women’s day once again

From STEM to Entrepreneurship

Interview with bossbabes.ng CEO Chioma Onoshakpor

At Yellow Rose Launch Pad, our mission is to inspire more young females from Nigeria and worldwide to pursue a career in STEM. So when we heard about Chioma, we got all excited and reached out to her to hear her story. Chioma is such an inspiration to us, and we are delighted that she could share her journey to STEM and beyond with us in this interview.

The Interview

Hello Chioma, thanks for agreeing to be interviewed by YRLP. YRLP is a U.K. based registered charity that is focused on increasing the diversity in STEM industries by encouraging more females through financial scholarships and mentoring. it is so wonderful to be able to interview you. Before we start, let me just say that we are in awe of what you are doing with bossbabes Ng and how you are empowering women to create networks and leverage those networks to grow their businesses and careers. We know that you are a huge brand creator but a little birdie told us that you actually studied engineering. Is that really the case? Could you please introduce yourself and tell us the story of how you got to where you are.

As a young girl growing up in Nigeria, Africa, I was taught by my parents and society that I had to study either medicine, law or engineering to be able to survive after tertiary education (university). It was a thing of prestige for parents that produced children in these disciplines. So in order to be an obedient child, I chose engineering not necessarily because I knew what it was all about, but since I had the prerequisite O’Levels needed to be accepted, I went for it.  I also went ahead to do a Masters in Oil and Gas in the Uk where I finished with a Distinction. I thereafter looked for a job in the oil and gas sector but couldn’t get one because of the stereotype against women in STEM. Out of an eagerness to do something for me and not solely rely on my partner, I floated a start-up in branding and design and the rest is history. But in everything I do, as it relates to branding, I see my engineering skills show up. From identifying what brands to work with, pitching to brands and identifying the best locations for any photoshoot, I am very analytical in my thinking. I also see my STEM background show up in my PhD research because after thinking and writing critically, I also think analytically which I believe is a strength.

Wow! That is so amazing. So many people would have carried on trying to break into a sector and would maybe start doubting themselves. I love how you dug deep and asked yourself deep questions that set you on the path you have taken to success. It’s also amazing that you are applying the complex problem-solving skills from engineering to the businesses that you have started. Once an engineer always and engineer, right!

Ok, here is the next question. Before this interview we took a look at your Instagram profile @personal_brand_boss and wow!!! Your pictures don’t look like what most people expect an engineer to look like. I know this is a myth but many people think that women who study engineering or technology are dowdy and mouse-like in appearance, with no colour and little personality. What would you say to people who say such things?

Absolutely a Myth! Style for me is for everyone irrespective of gender and profession. It’s true that a profession can influence your style because as a rig worker, for instance, you may not be required to appear in suits and ties at work. But ask yourself, when you get out of that professional scene, going out to public places, dinners, parties, you have no excuse to show up in a jumpsuit. The fashion police will come after you. I think we should invest in our personal style either by doing it ourselves or getting someone to help us do it.

Thanks for your great answer. It is so important that we understand our selves and stay true to our personal brand irrespective of the careers that we choose. Lets move on to the next question if you don’t mind – When you think back to your years of studying STEM subjects in secondary school and Engineering at Uni, what parts did you find most exciting about your subjects and course?

Hmm, I loved Maths in secondary school in fact I did Further Maths and thought it was better than Maths. I thought it was quicker to finish once I remembered the formulae. Then in the university, I loved Petroleum Economics and Offshore Operations, the whole idea that you can optimize anything intrigues me.

Being an Electrical/Electronic Engineer myself and having completed a Masters degree in Advanced Control Systems, I also love the thought of optimising processes and systems. Isn’t it amazing that two women like us from different backgrounds share a common interest in optimisation, and this leads me on to the next question. The Statistics from JAMB show that only about 14% of the intake into Engineering in the last few years have been women and this number is falling. Nigeria is a country where so many problems that we have can be solved by applying engineering and knowledge from technical subjects. Against this backdrop, do you think that Nigeria and the world needs more women to study engineering and other STEM subjects and why do you think it is important to have more diversity in STEM industries?

Simply put YES! The world needs more women in STEM because I believe in equality and the world is unequal today because it all started with the inequality in STEM. Even in the field of entrepreneurship, the credit gap facing female entrepreneurs can be linked to the lack of relevant education and managerial skills that a STEM background can offer.

We have really learnt a lot from this interview With you. Thank you for being so open and honest about the challenges you faced and the things that inspired you and the actions you have taken to be so successful. The last question we have for you is this- what would you say to young girls studying STEM subjects in school and young ladies who are on the journey to reading degrees in STEM courses, what advice or encouragement do you have for them?

I would say go for STEM, it builds you, gives you that extra edge to do anything you possibly will want to do later on in life. You will be well calculated, analytical, mannered and very progressive. So my dears, GO for it!!

Well its a wrap. It has been an absolute pleasure to speak with the amazing Engineer Chioma Onoshakpor. Key messages from this interview are; It doesn’t matter what you choose to do with your STEM degrees or certificates, you can work in a bank or own you own business as long as you are using your skills to make this world a better place. Once a woman in STEM, always a woman in STEM.

Interviewed by Anuli Marshall on behalf of YRLP.

Success and Motivation

There are many definitions of success, but I like this one that says that success can be defined as impacting the world with the investments of your personality. This means you must invest in your personality and with that investment; you will be able to impact the world around you. When it comes to investing in yourself, you must determine what type of information you put into yourself; be it through the materials you read and or through the people you listen to. Why? Because it is important to choose what you feed your mind because that will affect who you will become eventually. Who do you want to be like? What kind of impact do you want to make? Understanding the answers to these questions can immediately help you to streamline the type of information that you allow yourself to imbibe.

Section 4 on the YRLP application form poses a question about role models because we want young ladies to identify those individuals who inspire them in one way or the other through their works and achievements so that you can aspire to become successful in your life. A key step in developing yourself is to identify the characteristics you appreciate in your role model/s and find out more about their life journey so that you can learn from their mistakes and success, and then take the necessary action to meet your life goals. For example, if you are a young girl who wants to pursue a career in Engineering, it would be useful to use your network, including that of your parents and friends to identify females in the engineering industry, to observe what they have done and are doing, and learn from them. You could also read articles written by these women, study their work or find a way to reach out to them under parental supervision (for children in secondary school) to get some guidance.

Everyone says that the youth are the hope of the future; rightly said but you should also narrow it down to yourself: I am the hope of the future. Then you begin to ask the right questions; if truly I am the hope of the future, then what actions do I need to take now that I am young to build towards my desired future. As you ask yourself this vital question, remember that people who have invested in developing themselves in the past are now inspiring others and motivating them through that investment. The key message here is to take time to think about the investments that you can make into developing your personality and take action now.

Refuse to listen to the voices of doubts and determine to make a success out of your life. Become inspired and motivated by the success of others. Be hopeful about the future and never be afraid.

Written by Chidinma Ozulumba

Yellow Rose Ambassador

INSIDE GIST WITH THE YELLOW ROSES(The Series)

We caught up with Ndukife Chijindum Ogochukwu, one of the 2019/2020 beneficiaries of the YellowRose Launch Pad scholarship Scheme recently and below are highlights from our conversation.

Can we meet you please?

My name is Ndukife Chijindum Ogochukwu

How then did you hear about the YRLP scholarship scheme?

My mum’s friend introduced my mum and I to the launchpad scholarship programme.

What’s your level of education?

I am currently in ss3.

We love that you chose to study science subjects. Could you tell us what exactly sparked your interest in STEM?

I have always loved science especially the engineering aspect it makes me express myself and the ability to use my hands to achieve something very meaningful.

Tell us more about getting the scholarship, I know you are very pleased that you got it. What did the scholarship mean to you and your family?

I was very excited and happy to receive such good news

Why did you choose to study STEM?

I have always loved engineering so I continued developing interest in it which made me really determined to study it.

Do you currently belong to any STEM Group/Organization?

No I am currently not in any STEM organization.

Can you share your thoughts about females studying STEM?

I feel it is important because you hardly find a woman/girl who is interested in science most especially the engineering aspect so the men feel it is their jurisdiction and no lady can occupy that position .

If you could have any superpower,what would it be?

I really can’t decide but if I had any superpower I would use it for a good cause.

Do you have any word of advice for young girls who want to study STEM?

My advise to them is to give it their best and put in a lot of hard work into being the best and also not to let any man or boy intimidate them for choosing STEM .

Don’t Rest on your Laurels

Dear Yellow Rose, it has been a minute, I hope you are keeping well and thriving.  It has been a few months since we celebrated International Women’s day, but I hope you haven’t forgotten the theme for this year which is to choose to challenge. I really hope that in the last few months, you have found ways to choose to challenge gender inequality and the stereotypes that come with being female. I am sure you are flying the flag for all of us, keep pushing.

I have been reflecting on what women have achieved for themselves since the start of the 20th century. We have come a long way from not having a vote, from being excluded in tertiary institutions of learning, to being able to own our own money and find paid employment. While great progress has been made, an event like the COVID pandemic shows how much success can be eroded in a very short period with many women disproportionately affected by job losses impacting industries where most women work like retail, trade, admin etc. This shows that we must not rest on out laurels and must continue to press for progress in our lives and for equality in accessing opportunities.

If you are unfamiliar with the phrase,  “to rest on your laurels” is an idiom that in ancient times meant to rest on your accomplishments; a kind of retirement or finish after your crown of laurels is received. Resting on your laurels means you get complacent or lazy. You bask in past successes rather than continue to achieve, rather than continue to push for more progress. But we can’t afford to do that.

Why, you may ask? Well, let us talk about it.  It is a natural human tendency to stop pushing when we think we have met our milestones. Most people relax because they feel they are in a sweet spot. While this may be so, achieving these objectives doesn’t necessarily equate to meeting our full potential. Would you stop pushing because you won a silver medal, when you know that you could achieve gold with some more effort? You could be the best student in your class presently, but could dwelling on this and getting comfortable prevent you from becoming the best student in your district, in your state etc?

Hopefully you get the point which is that you should enjoy your achievements, but have a growth mindset. Always challenge yourself to think how you can improve. Achieving a successful outcome is fantastic but it needs continued effort to sustain the same level of success and to achieve more.  It does not matter what your level of expertise is or how sound you are intellectual if you rest on your laurels, it will become obvious with time. You need to work to keep your skills current, read more, learn more, collaborate with others more to stay ahead of the pack! Here are some tips to apply immediately:

1. Take a Moment to Remember

We are not to live in the past, but that does not mean we should not reflect on our previous victories and what it took to get that achievement and learn from it.

2. Take Stock of What You Have

What is in your hands? What do you have NOW to work with? New resources? New skills? New vision? New people, to help? New opportunities open with new supply? Now that you know what you have, use it to improve yourself.

3. Take New Ground

What next after your previous victory? You do something completely different or you do something in a completely different way. Pioneer change, be a voice and a force wherever you find yourself.

Final word is a borrowed quote from Sheila Johnson, she said “Don’t rest on your laurels. There is always going to be someone behind you who is going to be better than you. So you need to get out there and keep working”.

Cheers!

Celebrating the International Day of the Girl

Girls at the CEE-Hope Head office at the International Day of the Girl Event hosted on the 11th of October 2020

Every year, the International Day of the Girl Child is celebrated on the 11th of October. This day of observance was declared by the United Nations and first celebrated for the first time on the 11th of October 2012. The day was instituted to support more opportunity for the girl child and to create awareness of gender inequality still faced by girls worldwide based on gender.

A huge number of girls in countries round the world continue to experience severe challenges to access education, health care, nutrition and protection from discrimination and it is vitally important that we continue to focus on improving lives of young girls, to give them the opportunity to complete education and achieve independence.

This year, Yellow Rose Launch Pad partnered with Cee-Hope Nigeria to provide ‘Keep- Girls-in-School-Kits’ to 60 girls located in 4 states of the Federal Republic of Nigeria – Lagos, Ogun, Ebonyi and Benue states. This package of basic necessities were selected to ensure that teenage girls have a fighting chance to stay in school and complete their education.

Contents of one of the Keep-Girls-in-School-Kits

One of the components in the kit is a 6 months supply of menstrual hygiene products or sanitary pads as they are popularly called in Nigeria. Through working with Cee-Hope on a documentary that was produced for world menstrual hygiene day, Anuli Marshall a co-founder of Yellow Rose launch Pad became aware of the negative impact that period poverty has on the lives and educational chances of teenage girls from disadvantaged backgrounds. It is well documented that young girls routinely sell their bodies to be able to afford menstrual care products. The unfortunate outcome is that some girls fall pregnant which curtails their educational progress. For the girls who are lucky enough not to fall pregnant, these experiences may alter the way they value their bodies, and they may come to see their bodies as an item that can be battered in exchange for money or material goods, also a terrible outcome.

The Yellow Rose Launch Pad continues to be committed to removing barriers to girls achieving their educational dreams by providing access to basic supplies including sanitary pads and will continue to work with CEE-Hope to reach young girls in need. Our aim is to keep as many girls in full-time education as they go through this critical period of development. We also call on the Nigerian government, policy makers, the private sector and international organizations to continue to prioritize education for females by removing barriers that keep girls away from school.

Ensuring that the girl child receives the right education will unlock diverse potential that is critical for solving economic and social problems faced in many communities today. We stand with every supportive person, community and organization to celebrate the value of our female children.

Happy International Day of the Girl Child 2020.