Samoa celebrates the achievements and contributions of women in STEM

On this Women and Girls in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Day, Samoa celebrates the achievements and contributions of women in STEM.
Australia is proud to support the growth of opportunities for women in STEM. With only 28% of the global STEM workforce comprised of women, Samoa is challenging these global statistics with its high number of women in STEM.
Samoan women across many STEM fields are making significant contributions to their country, breaking down barriers in what is normally a male-dominated field.
Two such Samoan trailblazers are Australia Awards alumni Saouila Tolovaa and Sheena Uputaua Lesa.
Saouila Tolovaa, a research scientist in the microbiology technical team at the Scientific Research Organization of Samoa (SROS), says her journey into STEM started with a curious mind and a love for learning. “Being a scientist doesn’t mean you always need to have the right answer,” says Ms. Tolovaa. “Be curious and challenge what is already out there, and prove what is not – that’s what I believe makes a good scientist. “
Sheena Uputaua Lesa, Chief Information Technology Officer at the Samoa National Provident Fund, was inspired by her computer teacher in Samoa College to pursue a career in software engineering. “When my computer teacher in Samoa College said that a computer only understands 0 and 1, I was curious to know why not 5, 6, or 8,” says Ms. Lesa. “What was special about 0 and 1? This sparked my interest in the world of technology.”
Despite being the only girl in her graduating class of 2013, Ms. Lesa says it only motivated her to succeed. “It just made me want to push further and prove that gender has nothing to do with achieving your own goals,” she says.
Ms. Tolovaa encourages young girls considering a career in STEM to “expect frustration, challenge, and failure in this field. But that doesn’t mean you give up once you fail.” She says, “It just means you are one step ahead in reaching that cutting-edge conclusion.”
Ms. Lesa advises others wanting to pursue a career in STEM to “set realistic goals – time is your most valuable asset.” She adds, “Never lose sight of it, always embrace and learn from your failures.”
In response to the needs identified by the Government of Samoa, the Australia Awards scholarship program creates opportunities for Samoan students to further their education and to contribute making a meaningful difference to their families and to the people of Samoa.