Interview Series: Aniesha Scott -- By Asabi Rawlins --STEM and innovation in the Caribbean

Hi everyone, it's Asabi again. My next STEAM interview was with an ambitious young woman, Aniesha Scott, an Information Technology enthusiast from Laventille, Trinidad and Tobago. Aniesha holds an Honors Degree in Information Technology and works in the area of software analysis and development. I was particularly eager to speak with Aniesha as she, in my view, is a positive beacon.

Globally, it is no secret that women are underrepresented in STEM. In Trinidad and Tobago, negative stereotypes about the Laventille area abound. Aniesha clearly challenges stereotypes!! Let's talk about #STEAM #TrinidadandTobago #Innovation

Asabi: As a young person, are you optimistic about the economic opportunities available to you in your country?

Aniesha: No, I am not optimistic about economic opportunities in my country. In general, meaningful opportunities in Trinidad and Tobago are influenced by nepotism. My lack of optimism comes from a real place, the government has allowed some large conglomerates to dominate critical industries. This has created barriers to entry and stifled the growth of many smaller businesses, thus creating a dependency that I find dangerous. As a young person looking at the economy holistically, and taking into account the government's “complacency,” I cannot be optimistic.

Asabi: Do you feel supported as a woman in STEM?

Aniesha: No, I do not. There is still a lot of discrimination in the STEM environment in Trinidad and Tobago. Some of which I have been unfortunate enough to see and experience first-hand. There ought to be a local/regional “Women in STEAM” organization/foundation that can raise awareness and aid in the removal of the lingering stigma attached to women's ability and performance in our field.

Asabi: What do you understand by STEAM and its impact on development in the Caribbean?

Aniesha: From what I understand the purpose of STEAM is to nurture creative thinking and problem solving in the youth so that they will be equipped to meaningfully contribute to society’s development. STEAM has impacted the Caribbean in that more and more students (especially female) are gravitating towards STEAM as opposed to business and other fields of study. Caribbean economies are yet to see the kind of developments that are possible if STEAM is well nurtured and implemented.

Asabi: Do you think enough is being done to advance innovation in your country?

Aniesha: Trinidad and Tobago has not done enough in terms of innovation. The quality of lives and productivity of our country can be drastically improved through advanced innovation. There is too much red tape and bureaucracy that hinders a lot of advancements in innovation.

Asabi: Are you aware of any resources that encourage STEM combined with innovation and arts?

Aniesha: No.

Asabi: How do you feel about the opening of a STEAM Center in the Caribbean?

Aniesha: This will be a step in the right direction for the Caribbean as it will nurture generations of STEAM professionals to facilitate STEAM development, but multiple STEAM centers will we required to be able to make any substantial impact outside of where it resides.

Asabi: What particular services would you want a regional STEAM center to offer?

Aniesha: Some of the services that I think such a center should offer are as follows:

(1) Structured after school curriculums where students can be rewarded with participation certificates after major milestones; (2) After-school or co-curricular lessons; (3) and Opportunities for voluntary work; this applies to both staff and students.

Hermina Johnny