Across the many STEM fields a lack of female representation has been noted around the world. For example, the UNESCO Institute of Statistics reported in 2015 that on average in the world women constitute as 28% of researchers and when looking specifically at the continent of Africa women account for 30% of the researchers. As much as the connection to resources and opportunities are essential in changing this representation, the importance of inspiration for girls and women to be part of STEM cannot be overlooked. And that is exactly the role Levers in Heels has taken for Ghanaian women and women across the African continent.
Being one of four women in a male-dominated engineering class at the University of Ghana, Larisa Bowen-Dodoo was inspired to create a platform for African women to
have a voice. This inspiration lead to the establishment of Levers in Heels, which means “Women, Means of Accomplishment,” on 15th January of 2014. Originally starting out as a blog for Ghanaian women in STEM during Bowen-Dodoo’s time at her national service, it has now been expanded into a website along with a periodic newsletter and later this year launching the first annual conference. The blog that ran for two years was a space for young women in Ghana and across of Africa to learn of the different women who are present in the various STEM fields. Having inspiration and role models to look up to was and is seen as a way to contribute to the girls and women striving to succeed in STEM. Levers in Heels interviewed women with all STEM backgrounds. From the ever-confident and Ghanaian renowned Software Engineer Farida Bedwei to Ghana’s first Amphibian Biologist Sandra Owusu-Gyamfi, we learn of their journeys and what it took to reach their goals and what lies ahead for them in the future. The diversity in the fields and the backgrounds of the women display Bowen-Dodoo’s understanding in the importance of representation in the many fields as just one story may keep the light of inspiration in a budding STEM student going.
Not only has Levers in Heels worked in creating inspirations for the many women in STEM but has collaborated with organizations. One notable collaboration occurred 2014 during the Ebola epidemic that directly impacted a handful on West African countries. A competition was launched in partnership with the organization Innovate Ghana to inspire tertiary students in creating “low cost isolation units for Ebola affected countries.”
Many may call Levers in Heels just a platform or a just an organization for STEM but what it is, as founder Bowen-Dodoo stated in an interview, is a MOVEMENT. It is here to put a close lens to the women who are working in areas that have long been dominated by men and to motivate those who maybe stuttering in their journey or maybe have not even started on their journey.
To read the many inspirations and learn more of future work by Lever in Heels see below:
 UIS, “Women In Science,” UIS Fact Sheet, No. 34, November 2015, 2, http://www.uis.unesco.org/ScienceTechnology/Documents/fs34-2015-women%20in%20science-en.pdf.