Written by Given Ngwira, BASEflow Hydrogeologist
Earlier this year, I had the wonderful opportunity and privilege of visiting Andiamo Secondary School in Balaka for a career talk, and to share my experience as a female hydrogeologist in Malawi. The goal of the event was to provide the senior class students with valuable insights on the journey through university and to inspire them to broaden their horizons which can lead to different possibilities for their future. Andiamo is a co-ed Secondary School of students who come from underprivileged homes and have limited exposure to various professional pathways. My wish was that this experience would become a strong reminder to especially young girls, that passion and determination can overcome barriers, lighting up the path toward a future full of possibilities.
I began by highlighting that as a hydrogeologist, I am part of a profession that has been traditionally dominated by men. I emphasized the need for female role models in male-dominated sectors, and that witnessing successful women thriving ignited a spark of inspiration within me. I hope this conversation will encourage them to believe in themselves and challenge societal norms that discourage them from pursuing their dreams. I shared my experiences of breaking through stereotypes and the importance of gender diversity in STEM fields. The message was clear: passion knows no gender, and every individual has the potential to excel in any chosen path.
I delighted them with stories from my fieldwork adventures. From trudging through crazy terrain to get to water points, to collecting water samples, and the exciting adventures of borehole forensics, each tale was a glimpse into the practical side of hydrogeology.
I also highlighted that in this career, I have faced challenges and I believe it is essential to share these experiences and show them that my path and circumstances were not dissimilar to theirs but I had to find the strength and determination it required to succeed and which I believe, they are all capable of.
The Malawian job market is dynamic and ever-evolving and I spoke on how to position themselves for success. From building strong communication skills to networking and seeking mentorship, and how they can learn practical strategies to enhance their employability and professional growth.
Overall, my experience at Andiamo School was profoundly rewarding. I could see the curiosity and enthusiasm in the student’s eyes as they listened to my journey. As I shared my story, I felt a sense of responsibility to pave the way for the next generation of hydrogeologists, both male and female. It was an incredible opportunity to make a difference in these young lives, encouraging them to chase their dreams and challenge the norm.
As the event concluded, I felt a sense of accomplishment. These students, often faced with circumstances beyond their control, were now armed with the idea that a future in science was within their grasp. Their dreams might be nurtured amidst challenges, but with passion and perseverance, they could blossom into something extraordinary.