Celebrating Mothers in STEM: Gladys Njoroge, Engineering Beyond Numbers

What is your name?

Gladys Njoki Njoroge

Which STEM field are you in?

Engineering

What/Who inspired you to pursue a career in STEM?

My mother – in school she was good at math and physics but she did not get a chance to pursue it to the level she wanted and so when she noticed I was good at the same subjects she encouraged me to pursue it.

Could you share a brief overview of your journey in the STEM field?

My journey started post-high school when I selected an engineering course and joined the University of Nairobi. I found the units exciting, my personality was influenced, the networking sessions regularly planned also informed the direction I wanted to take. Practicing engineering was equally exciting and finding areas of integration in the space I am currently in has also been a fulfilling learning curve.

How has motherhood impacted your career journey in STEM?

It has made me very empathetic and considerate. That whatever I do, be it an engineering design or developing a solution, there is mostly a human being as the end user and for them it is beyond the math and calculations. There are other dynamics such as social aspects and this has to be constantly understood.

What are some of the challenges you have faced as a mother in the STEM industry?

Mom guilt especially when I have had to travel and be away from my child.

What support systems or resources have helped you navigate the challenges you faced being a mother in STEM?

My husband and parents have been a constant source of support, not allowing mom guilt get to me by being present for my child. My child has a present dad. Financial resources have also eased navigating some challenges

In what ways can the STEM industry better support and accommodate mothers?

I would say listening to the mothers and adjusting. Some actions can be as simple as availing pumping or lactation rooms for mothers in the work place, lobbying for longer maternity leaves that allow mothers resume work in the right state of mind among many other things. Mothers know and they are asking, they need someone who will listen, act and let them know it is all valid.

How can we (mothers already in STEM) encourage more mothers and aspiring mothers pursue and thrive in STEM careers?

Hold one hand, then another and they will in turn do the same. Mentor those who are younger, hold forums for exchange, advocate for those who cannot advocate for themselves, be intentional about addressing the challenges that face mothers in STEM/those aspiring.

What advice would you give to young women aspiring to pursue careers in STEM while also planning to become mothers?

I would borrow the quote “Nevertheless she persisted” and encourage the young women to not despair or give up but to persist in breaking barriers, pushing, speaking out, despite being silenced or ignored.

Is there anything else you would like to share about your experience as a mother in STEM?

We keep going confidently in the direction of our dreams!

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