STEAM Room: Diversity and Inclusivity in STEAM

We interviewed our STEAM Awards 2022 Winner for the Advocacy of STEM in communities, Margo Adonis.

Ms Margo Adonis is a registered Scientist with SACNASP, she works for the Department of Water and Sanitation and is also Miss Earth Ambassador. Margo is involved in many community upliftment programmes, especially in water conservation and environmental conservation. Through her Miss Earth Portfolio and professional work, she engages young people in schools and communities, involving them in projects such as beach clean ups and career development to encourage young people to be involved in taking care of the environment and to take up careers in science (and related fields).  Margo’s passion for science and environmental protection has led her to advocate at a community level through education and awareness as she has established her own NGO, Visions of Change focused on Environmental advocacy and scientific empowerment within Communities across the Western Cape.

We invited Margo to the STEAM Room to talk about inclusivity in STEM.

Margo Adonis

Inclusivity and diversity are amongst many battles still being fought for … we have shifted the needle, but progression remains slow.
– Margo Adonis

Inclusivity and diversity in STEAM – is it happening and to what extent – what more needs to be done to open up the STEAM industry?

For many years STEAM has been a male dominated environment created, designed and filled to empower and grow that very male population. Overtime we have slowly began to see Woman taking up spaces but only after many glass ceilings were shattered and they demanded those spaces. Inclusivity and diversity are amongst many battles still being fought for we have shifted the needle, but progression remains slow. Personally for myself a young female of colour I remember when I entered the STEAM environment many told me it would be hard to make a name for myself. The harder I worked, the louder I demanded and aggressively took up spaces just to normalize the idea that a female of colour can command her territory. Over the past few years I have seen more woman in power, more woman empowering both themselves and others and most of all woman in positions to be change makers and that is a sign there has been more progression then cared to admit however there is so much more work to be done.

How important is being sponsored or mentored in STEAM? Is it similar in approach and how it can be done the way it’s done in the traditional corporate space?

In the STEAM environment it’s so important to have strong, passionate, and dedicated mentors who are willing to empower the next because having such role models available and willing to groom others by investing their time, patience and knowledge plays such an important role in the development of your own path. Without the advice and guidance it becomes harder to grow in a way that not only opens doors for yourself but for others to follow as well. Any form of sponsorship both modernised or traditional is important especially when you are trying to position yourself to reach well beyond the ordinary, resources and good advice are two major factors when growing yourself in the STEAM environment for those are two things that will not only ensure your grow your professional career but allow you to invent and recreate spaces.

How can private – public – academic partnerships truly make an impact in STEAM? What areas need to be focused on to make these partnerships really work?

On some small scales there are already such partnerships that exist, collaboration and partnership is a fundamental tool to the success of many. When objectives are aligned it allows room for such partnership and collaborations to take place.

In the STEAM space we see the strength of such partnerships through events such as the Eskom science expo for young scientist where the link between all these sectors join forces to ensure the STEAM environment grows, beyond that the relationship between academics and public sectors where students are exposed to the technical and scientific working environment through internships and graduate programme is another platform which once again showcases not only the need but the strength and outcome of such partnerships. Some areas which needs to be focused on includes; expanding partnerships, strengthening local partners, partnerships creation, marketing of outcomes and lastly investments into such partnerships.

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